BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Right hemisphere stroke patients frequently experience spatial neglect, a severe lack of awareness for contralesional hemispace. Although neglect counts among the strongest predictors for poor functional outcome after stroke, there is no established therapy, particularly not for the acute stage.
METHODS: In a randomized controlled trial, we compared the combined treatment of hemifield eye patching and repetitive optokinetic stimulation in acute stroke patients with neglect to the spontaneous course. Outcome measures were a neuropsychological test battery for neglect as well as scales of functional independence and clinical impairment. Outcomes were assessed at baseline (day 1), post treatment (day 8), and at 1-month follow-up (day 30).
RESULTS: Final analysis included 21 acute right hemisphere stroke patients with neglect (23 enrolled, 2 lost to follow-up) allocated either to the treatment (1 week hemifield eye patching and daily sessions of optokinetic stimulation, n=11) or the control group (no neglect-specific treatment, n=10). At baseline, both groups did not differ in neuropsychological test performance, clinical impairment, or functional disability. At the post treatment session, both groups had improved in all these measures, and results were stable or further improved at follow-up. However, there was no significant difference in this change between the treatment and the control group.
CONCLUSIONS: An early intervention of combined hemifield eye patching and optokinetic stimulation in acute stroke patients with spatial neglect has no additive effect to the spontaneous remitting course of the disorder.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT01617343.
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