Brain Damage in Stroke Survivors may be Hidden

 Brain Damage in Stroke Survivors may be Hidden
Stroke survivors may have some damage to their brains that is not obvious, but may still impact their routine life.
Scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey say that such “hidden disabilities” require targeted diagnostic and treatment strategies.

“Difficulty eating, dressing, and navigating in complex environments occurs due to a ‘hidden disability’ affecting functional vision. Although a stroke survivor’s eyes may be healthy, he or she may have trouble ‘seeing with the brain,’” said Dr. Anna Barrett, an associate professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Neurology and Neurosciences, at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.

“A person may become unable to perceive and act while eating, getting dressed, or moving around in the home or other very familiar surroundings. Worse, people with this visual-spatial disability usually don’t know why they are making mistakes. They don’t realize they have problems with functional vision, and so they can’t tell others,” the researcher added.

Barrett revealed that her research involves studies that target diagnostic and treatment strategies for this devastating, but under diagnosed condition.

“Our mission in our research studies is to make these “hidden disabilities” visible so they can be treated,” she said.

She said that over 50 per cent of stroke survivors also have memory difficulties that make it hard to manage appointments, medications, and to dual-task at home or in work environments.

According to her, such problems can limit stroke survivors’ independence, and confuse people who care about them.

Since memory problems resulting from stroke often go undetected, survivors may not know why they are having trouble resuming independence and returning to work.

Barrett says that such a “hidden disability” can be detected by observing certain warning signs.

Repeatedly bumping into one side of the body while walking through doorways; “staring off” in one direction, particularly toward the right side of the body, or generally making poor eye contact; involvement in a driving accident since the stroke or experiencing strange sensations when riding as a passenger; and having trouble finding things on one side of the body or in one place are some of the warning signs that can enable carers to detect the problem.


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