Potential treatment for hemi-spatial neglect

Research summary

Our research tests a new treatment for hemi-spatial neglect. This is an attentional disorder that commonly arises after stroke, causing sufferers to act as if one half of their visual world is missing. Sufferers are not blind – if strongly encouraged they can, for short periods, move their attention to the affected side. Symptoms include bumping into objects, leaving food on one side of the plate, and failing to notice people on the affected side. The condition strongly predicts the rate of more general recovery from stroke, and many who show hemi-spatial neglect at hospital admission still struggle with daily routine years later. The current treatment provides little relief.  

Our new approach involves passing tiny electrical currents through the part of the scalp that lies just behind the ears. The currents are too small to cause discomfort, but stimulate nerve pathways that project from the inner ear to those parts of the brain that are damaged. The aim of our study is to show that repeated sessions lead to significant improvement. 

The study is funded by the Medical Research Council and is now recruiting participants. The treatment is given every day for two weeks (excluding the weekend) with each daily session lasting approximately 45minutes. During this time, participants can just sit and rest. The sessions are currently run in hospitals and outpatient clinics throughout Kent. 

How to get in touch

Please do get in touch if you or a relative/friend suffer from the condition and are perhaps interested in participating. You can email the study coordinator Dr. Olga Zubko at olga.zubko@nhs.net or write to her at the following address: School of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP. Your correspondence will be treated in strict confidence.

Dr. David Wilkinson
Chief Study Investigator

Image of a normal flower and one drawn by a person with hemi-spatial neglect
The right-hand image was drawn by a person with hemi-spatial neglect, and shows how they see the flower on the left.

On the box

A video about the treatment of Hemi-spatial neglect
A video about the treatment of Hemi-spatial neglect