"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
"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.