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Kessler Foundation Research Center Presented Two Studies on Post-stroke Spatial Neglect at American Academy of Neurology
Date:4/30/2009

Studies May Identify Best Candidates for Treatment of this Hidden Disability

WEST ORANGE, N.J., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Two studies from Kessler Foundation Research Center's Stroke Rehabilitation Research Laboratory were presented today at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 61st Annual Meeting held in Seattle, Washington, April 25 through May 2, 2009. The AAN Annual Meeting is the world's largest gathering of neuroscience professionals.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090430/NY07915)

-- Fortis and colleagues: Effect of Prism Adaptation on "Aiming" Spatial Bias and Functional Abilities. April 30, 2009: 7 am

-- Kornitzer and colleagues: Prism Adaptation and Learning Curves in Spatial Neglect. April 30, 2009: 7 am

Both research studies may aid in identifying the best candidates for a novel treatment for "spatial neglect," a hidden, but disabling condition that can complicate recovery from even a mild stroke. The person with spatial neglect has difficulty recognizing and reacting appropriately to events in a 3-dimensional space on the side opposite the brain injury. Objects may be ignored, or may appear displaced to the right or left. Caregivers may assume that the person is not motivated or is intellectually impaired. Untreated, spatial neglect can be the cause of auto accidents, falls, cooking-related injuries, and inadequate personal hygiene. Hidden disabilities like spatial neglect are common after stroke and relatively easy to detect, but are often overlooked.

To detect spatial neglect, clinicians evaluate a person's ability to perform visual-motor tasks such as bisecting a line, copying simple drawings, and identifying letters in an array. Because perception of their environment, and the ability to move within their environment, is impaired, individuals with spatial neglect make one-sided errors. Prism adaptation, a leading treatment in the field, uses optical lenses to help correct the errors caused by spatial neglect. Investigators at Kessler Foundation's Stroke Research Laboratory are studying which patients with spatial neglect may be most likely to benefit from prism adaptation.

"We are learning more every day about how to identify and work with hidden disorders of mental function after brain injury," said Anna M. Barrett, MD, director of the Stroke Research Laboratory and co-author of both studies. "These studies are a breakthrough in uncovering why prism adaptation treatment may work well for some patients, and some symptoms, and not as well on others." Targeting patients likely to respond may accelerate their recovery, minimize disability, and lessen the duration and cost of stroke rehabilitation.

One study, Prism Adaptation and Learning Curves in Spatial Neglect, by Kornitzer and colleagues, showed that after prism adaptation, some patients with spatial neglect did not exhibit a classic learning curve. Instead of the typical slow decline in error rates, some participants experienced widely fluctuating error rates. Screening patients for fluctuating errors might help identify candidates for this treatment. The second study, Effect of Prism Adaptation on "Aiming" Spatial Bias and Functional Abilities, by Fortis and colleagues, examined the effects of prism adaptation on two aspects of spatial neglect: 'aiming' bias (the ability to act in the environment) and 'where' bias (seeing or knowing where). Aiming bias improved with treatment; however, "where" bias, was negatively affected by the treatment. This finding may also aid in identifying which candidates, and which symptoms, will respond to prism adaptation.

Kessler Foundation partially funds these studies conducted by the Stroke Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, which is one of the seven specialized laboratories of Kessler Foundation Research Center. "We are very proud of Kessler Foundation Research Center's continued excellence in research. Making discoveries that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities is central to Kessler Foundation's mission," said Rodger DeRose, President and CEO of Kessler Foundation.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, established in 1985, is one of the largest public charities supporting people with physical disabilities. The Foundation's mission is to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities by raising, managing and distributing resources to support Kessler Foundation Research Center, its cutting-edge research facility and by supporting the efforts of other non-profit organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. Kessler Foundation Research Center conducts a range of research programs designed to improve function and quality of life for persons with physical disabilities due to spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other neurological and orthopedic conditions. Kessler Foundation also supports programs that promote the employment of people with disabilities through its Program Center's "Transition to Work" Signature and Community Employment Grants. The Foundation's Special Initiative Grants also support educational programs like 'ThinkFirst', an injury prevention program aimed at children and teens. Kessler Foundation has a full-time staff of 90 individuals, divided between two locations in West Orange, New Jersey.


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