Persons with post-stroke visuospatial neglect (VSN) often collide with moving obstacles while walking. It is not well understood whether the collisions occur as a result of attentional-perceptual deficits caused by VSN or due to post-stroke locomotor deficits. We assessed individuals with VSN on a seated, joystick-driven obstacle avoidance task, thus eliminating the influence of locomotion. Twelve participants with VSN were tested on obstacle detection and obstacle avoidance tasks in a virtual environment that included three obstacles approaching head-on or 30 ( degrees ) contralesionally/ipsilesionally. Our results indicate that in the detection task, the contralesional and head-on obstacles were detected at closer proximities compared to the ipsilesional obstacle. For the avoidance task collisions were observed only for the contralesional and head-on obstacle approaches. For the contralesional obstacle approach, participants initiated their avoidance strategies at smaller distances from the obstacle and maintained smaller minimum distances from the obstacles. The distance at detection showed a negative association with the distance at the onset of avoidance strategy for all three obstacle approaches. We conclusion the observation of collisions with contralesional and head-on obstacles, in the absence of locomotor burden, provides evidence that attentional-perceptual deficits due to VSN, independent of post-stroke locomotor deficits, alter obstacle avoidance abilities.
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