Unilateral Neglect

The first time that I wrote about neglect I wrote it from the viewpoint of an arrogant PT who because I learned about it in school, thought that that made me some kind of authority on the subject.  That by NO means makes you an authority on ANYTHING.  That makes you someone that other people can use as a resource for information.  An authority – no.  I am still no kind of authority whatsoever about unilateral neglect because I never had it.  I did however have a massive stroke so it’s ok if some people look to me as an authority on the general topic of stroke and brain injury, but not some specific things that can happen as a result of a stroke.  I remember – this was like a month after the stroke – right after being discharged from the hospital and before I began outpatient therapy, that I had a few sessions of home PT.  One time when a physical therapist was there, a different one came for every home session, I reached across my body with my left hand for a tissue that was on my right side.  To this my therapist said to me, “Honey don’t neglect your right side, you have to be aware that that side is there.”  Sigh.  It wasn’t unilateral neglect that caused me to do that.  Neglect almost always happens to the left side of the body anyway.  I knew perfectly well that I COULD have used my right arm to reach for that tissue had it been cooperating and would very very very much have preferred to reach for it with my right arm.  But my brain wouldn’t allow me to do that at at time.  So I had to use my left arm, it wasn’t because I was neglecting my right side or had lost any awareness of my right.  My right side just didn’t work.  It still doesn’t work anywhere close to normal but I can do a lot of things with it now that I couldn’t then.  I could do nothing with it then, nothing.  Now I can use it for any gross motor movement like opening doors and stuff.  I can use it some when driving.  I don’t use it too much because if I do my tremor starts and it will cause my entire body to shake and that’s not a good thing when operating a motor vehicle.  But it helps some.  I can use it to help stabilize the steering wheel for a few seconds or use it a little when I’m turning.  I make right turns, I’m not neglectful of what’s on my right.  Writing with my right hand is out of the question.  I’m very much afraid that it might forever be out of the question.  I don’t have much hope anymore for getting fine motor movements back.

Categories: Brain stuff, Health, Recovery, Rehab, Stroke stuff

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14 replies

  1. I supposedly had some left sided neglect. With just a little bit of attention it went away. Some of the visual computer tests were stupid because if I happened to miss one of the items on the left side of the screen it was proof. No it wasn’t, that might have just been the number of items to find was meant to force you to not be able to complete it. Shades of college volunteer psychological testing for senior papers.

  2. I had it for the first few weeks….very strange. I knew things on the left were there but I would just sort of “ignore” everything on the left. I would bump into the wall….only on th left. We practiced walking outside….Id run everyone off the curb on the left. They tested my vision and I could see, but I would ignore everything unless I was totally focused on just that one thing. After about a month it was mostly gone. It as weird though. For some strange reason, I struggled/still struggle with remembering to use a hot pad on m left hand. I still burn myself regularly. I always think owell at least I can use my arm/hand to help…but it would be nice to not burn myself using it. Ugh….stroke survivor life. 🙂

    • Oh wow yeah that would be super dangerous. Question for you…..when you would burn yourself would you feel it? Did you know that you did that?

      • My cognitive deficits have been the hardest for me to overcome. The whole burning myself is probably a “planning” issue at this point. And yes, I can feel it, but I’m usually holding a hot pot or pan by the time I figure it out. I even did it twice in rehab. I keep cooking hoping I will eventually overcome this stupid problem. I put hot pads all over the place, notes, etc…nothing helps. Frustrating, dangerous, and painful!

  3. I don’t know how you deal with that tremor. I suppose that it has become better with your meditation. My right hand will occasionally get a tremor if I’m feeling really tired or cold or sick. Extreme situations, I guess. If l relax and stop thinking about the right hand, it will stop.
    I am the same as you – I’ve never had right side neglect as it is defined; the right side just didn’t use to work that well. Now, the right side works much better. It’s sometimes frustrating to make my right side do something that my left side can do so much faster. Eating, moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, cleaning a mirror, stirring cooking ingredients – I can do all of it with my right side but it is very slow and when I’m trying to get stuff done, I let the left side take over. I feel truly ambidextrous and this is why people at work forget that I’ve had a stroke. So, is that right-side neglect? I guess not – as defined by a therapist. But, I am neglecting to use my right side when I could and my right side could improve over time. I try to pick one slow right side task and concentrate on that for a while – right now, it’s bathroom stuff -brushing teeth, hair, applying makeup, etc. and over time it does improve. I really don’t want to give up on fine motor skills.
    I guess we all need the gift of more TIME – and REPITITIONS.

    • Same exact thing with me. No, that’s not neglect the condition as you said that would be defined by a therapist. As I understand neglect you actually don’t see things with that side, you’re not aware of their existence.

  4. I never had one side neglect, but the therapists tried to make it seem that way as with you. I was totally aware of my “dead” side. Now I’ll misjudge, slightly, going through doorways and brush my affected side against it, but that’s more distraction than anything else.

  5. A vision therapy “specialist” tried to say zack had left side neglect VERY early on. I don’t think he did. Unfortuntely, he wasn’t aware enough, at that point, to tell her she was wrong. It’s quite alright though, he has enough other deficits to make up for not having that one. 😳 I think we all know the moral of the story in regards to “specialists” in the stroke world. They’re special alright, just not in the way they think. 😉

    • I couldn’t tell that lady that she was wrong, but it had nothing to do my awareness of her being wrong, I just wasn’t able to voice it.
      “he has enough other deficits to make up for not having that one.”
      Haha, that made me laugh!

  6. I had left neglect in the beginning. I could see everything, but because my left side didn’t work, I just didn’t bother with it. the therapists insisted that I had left neglect and that when I had visitors, they needed to position them on my left side. After a while the left neglect went away, but my left side still doesn’t work and never may. It was never that great to begin with, only a helper hand at best. I don’t think it will ever be as strong as my right hand and arm. T use one of Barb’s analogies; A cherry tomato vs a beefsteak . Marta

    • Yeah my left hand before the stroke was a helper hand too, now it’s my primary hand. I wish the stroke fucked up my left side or that I was naturally left handed, but Kermit the Frog said this about wishes……

      “Who said that every wish
      Would be heard and answered
      When wished on the morning star
      Somebody thought of that
      And someone believed it
      And look what it’s done so far”

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