Unilateral Neglect

Unilateral neglect presents as lack of awareness of one side of the body or lack of response to stimuli on one side. Left side neglect is more frequently seen than right side neglect. The stroke patient may act oblivious to one side. Some examples of neglect include eating food on only one side of the plate, inability to see objects off to one side, grooming or dressing only one side of the body (i.e. only putting one arm through a sleeve), being unaware of the affected limbs, and reading only one side of text on a page. When asked to draw an object, a stroke victim with unilateral neglect may only draw half of the object. These are only a few examples, and symptoms of neglect will differ from person to person.

Techniques to Help Improve Neglect

1. Approach the stroke patient from the affected side causing them to have to attend to that side. If they do not look at you, gently turn their head toward you. Sit on the affected side when interacting with the stroke patient.

2. Put objects on the affected side to make the patient search for them. This applies to things like the tv remote, a glass of water, the phone, etc. This does not apply to the nurses call light though. Patients need to be able to call for help.

3. Touch the affected side or bring the patient's non-affected hand over to touch their affected side. This is to help make them aware of that side via touch.

4. Incorporate the affected limb into activities. An example would be the caregiver guiding the affected arm through an activity such as stroking the family pet, reaching for an object, or wiping off a table.

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