Australian Aged Care INsite recently reported that University of Queensland researcher associate professor Timothy Carroll is leading a research project that will help people overcome spatial neglect following a stroke.

Carroll says damage to the right hemisphere of the brain makes it difficult for stroke survivors to pay attention to the left side of space. This can affect many activities, from eating to shaving and even walking through door frames.

The current leading treatment involves people wearing spectacles containing prisms that shift the view. Carroll’s team will test a completely different approach in which a robot physically pushes the person’s hand to one side while they are reaching.

Carroll said the effectiveness of that treatment varies dramatically for different patients, ranging from long-lasting functional improvement after a single session to no benefit at all.

“We hope to show that learning to move straight when the robot pushes the hand to one side will help people with neglect to better orient attention to the left side of space,” he told INsite.

“This will help us to better understand the links between attention and movement after stroke, and may lead to new rehabilitation approaches for stroke survivors with attention deficits in the future.”

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