Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New therapy helps improve audio, visual perception in stroke patients

Date:
March 4, 2014
Source:
University Saarland
Summary:
Stroke is one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide. Many stroke survivors are left with serious health problems. Some patients, for example, find themselves unable to perceive one side of their body and can have problems seeing, hearing and feeling on that side. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that most of these patients are unable to assess their own state of health or even deny that there is a problem at all. A team of neuropsychologists has now developed a new technique that is helping to restore patients’ perception of sounds and images.

A team of neuropsychologists at Saarland University has developed a new technique that is helping to restore patients’ perception of sounds and images. The patients are shown a cloud of dots on a large screen which move coherently to the left (neglected) side of space. Patients are instructed to fixate the target with the different colour and follow it with their eyes to the left of space.
Credit: Oliver Dietze

Stroke is one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide. Many stroke survivors are left with serious health problems. Some patients, for example, find themselves unable to perceive one side of their body and can have problems seeing, hearing and feeling on that side. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that most of these patients are unable to assess their own state of health or even deny that there is a problem at all. Up until now there have been few promising therapeutic options for patients with this condition.

A team of neuropsychologists at Saarland University, led by Professor Georg Kerkhoff, has developed a new technique that is helping to restore patients' perception of sounds and images.

A stroke can cause permanent damage to important parts of the brain, with the result that many stroke survivors require lifelong care and support. 'It is not uncommon for stroke patients to suffer from an awareness deficit or a reduced response to stimuli on one side of their body. This condition, known as hemispatial neglect, can mean that patients are unable to properly perceive people, images or sounds on that side,' explains Professor Georg Kerkhoff from the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology at Saarland University. 'These phenomena tend to be observed when the right side of the brain is damaged, in which case, the left side of the body is affected.' Another factor that complicates the situation is that patients are often unable to correctly assess their own state of health or even deny that they have a deficit in this area. Experts refer to this aspect of hemispatial neglect as patient unawareness. 'This lack of awareness reduces the chances of therapeutic success and makes treatment more difficult,' says Kerkhoff. 'So far there have only been limited therapeutic options for this group of patients.'

The team of neuropsychologists at Saarbrόcken have developed a novel therapeutic approach that has now been tested in two separate studies. In optokinetic stimulation therapy (OKS), patients are shown a cloud of dots on a large screen in which one of the dots is highlighted in a different colour. The dots move horizontally at a constant speed from one side of the screen to the other. Patients must follow the movement of the dots with their eyes. The direction of motion depends on which side of the patient's body is affected. 'If the left side is affected, the dots move from the right side of the screen to the left,' explains Professor Kerkhoff. The dots therefore move from the healthy side of the body to the neglected side. 'This effectively forces the patient to become aware of his neglected side,' says Kerkhoff. Once the dot has reached the edge of the screen, the patient has to move his or her eyes back to the initial fixation point and the exercise begins again.

In order to check how efficient this new method is, the research team ran a study with 50 subjects in which they compared OKS with visual exploration training (VET), which is currently the most commonly used therapeutic procedure for patients with neglect. 'Up until now, patients using VET therapy have only been shown rigid patterns, but patients are generally better able to perceive motion,' explains Kerkhoff. The use of visual motion stimuli activates areas of the stroke patient's brain that are involved in eye movements and that facilitate attention towards the neglected side. 'After five OKS sessions, the subjects had measurably improved perception of sounds and images on the neglected side,' says Professor Kerkhoff. 'And the effect was sustained at follow-up.' In contrast, there was no improvement in symptoms using VET.

In a further study, the research team was able to show that OKS not only trains the senses, but also makes patients better able to deal with day-to-day problems such as locating objects and helps to improve their spatial orientation. After undergoing OKS therapy, patients were also better able to assess their own state of health and were no longer in denial about their functional impairments.

'OKS has been shown to be a very effective method of treatment,' says Kerkhoff, summarizing the results of the two studies. 'OKS speeds up recovery and can be deployed early on in stroke rehabilitation programmes, particularly in the case of patients with a severe lack of awareness.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Saarland. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Kerkhoff, S. Reinhart, W. Ziegler, F. Artinger, C. Marquardt, I. Keller. Smooth Pursuit Eye Movement Training Promotes Recovery From Auditory and Visual Neglect: A Randomized Controlled Study. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 2013; 27 (9): 789 DOI: 10.1177/1545968313491012

Cite This Page:

University Saarland. "New therapy helps improve audio, visual perception in stroke patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304094527.htm>.
University Saarland. (2014, March 4). New therapy helps improve audio, visual perception in stroke patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304094527.htm
University Saarland. "New therapy helps improve audio, visual perception in stroke patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304094527.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins