Monday, 31 October 2011

My Brain AVM Story: Left Side Neglect

Left side neglect is more common than right side neglect
I’m very lucky that, even though I still have some deficits on my left side I still have a relatively high degree of sensation on my left side. I still do have some left side neglect, however.

Left Side Neglect

When I was in early recovery stages, it was much worse. Apparently this generally stems from visual field impairment on the left side, which tests showed wasn't really a problem for me.  But I *did* have a reduced sense of sensation on my left side at the time, and also had trouble telling where my left arm and leg was without looking at them, so I also I just didn’t account for my left side in my movements and activities. At worse, this meant half-walking into a door or winging my arm off a piece of furniture. More commonly, it meant walking around with my t-shirt half-hiked up my left side, until someone reminded me that I’d forgotten to pull it down over my jeans when I got dressed. It just wouldn’t occur to me to check to see if I was fully put-together on my left side before leaving my room.

Today I remember to check my shirt, and I don’t walk into door posts or furniture. However, my stroke left me with a slight slope to my left shoulder that has me constantly checking my left side. My bra strap slips off my left shoulder sometimes, and I don’t always catch it until it occurs to me to (subtly, I hope) feel my shoulder and see if it’s still there (and less subtly wrench it back onto my shoulder if it’s not). When I haven’t done up my jacket or cardigan (and I hate doing up buttons or zippers with one hand, so my jackets and cardigans are usually open) the left sleeve creeps from my shoulder down my arm as I walk, sometimes bunching at my elbow before I look over and realize what’s happening. Left side neglect.

<h3>Stoke-Brain Quirks</h3>

So, even with the high amount of function return that I have, lots of sensation on my left side, and no visual field impairment,  my brain still has its little stroke-brain quirks. All things considered, though, I can live with dealing with a bit of left side neglect. I can even deal with being teased about it – apparently my niece Gillian’s shirts sometimes slip off her shoulder a bit and my sister and her husband laugh at her “left side neglect”.

If left side neglect puts me in company with my adorable little niece, I’ll take it.

More on left side neglect:


  1. Thanks for the link and the interesting perspective on left side neglect. Have you found your vocab (which in females tends to sit on both sides) has been cut in half, or limited, and looking back it seems like the person who wrote before was a different person?

    With torso down neuropathy, I find that I really need to see anything to do anything. If I can't SEE my hand, then I can't pick up a drink, I can't use a fork, nada. Using gym equipment, I have been trying to stand upright and use the treadmill. I moved from the ones in the middle to the ones which are against the glass, which at night is reflective and immediately I was able to make dozens of micro compensations of my torso, leg and foot in order to keep it 'in line' and do the balance which seems akin to being atop a pogo stick. Do you have this issue in sports, or workouts (have you tried rehab in front of a mirror versus just the machine, and is there a difference?).

    Thanks again for the interesting aspects about the left side neglect (ware the injuries on that side then, lest they become infected, yes?)

  2. Hi Elizabeth

    Right after the stroke, for the first few months, I had a very poor sense of where my left limbs were (especially my arm) if I couldn't see them...I believe this is called proprioception. And if you've got a tendency to not look at them in the first's the perfect recipe for getting them caught in a wheelchair because you've not positioned them properly, or accidentally placed on a hot stove burner...luckily, I've managed not to seriously harm myself. I did break my left pinky finger once, without even realizing it, which was an eye-opener - I'd thought the sensation in my left hand was *much* better than that, but I had no idea that my finger until the doctor told me.
    I find that I have just the tiniest bit of trouble with word retrieval when I'm talking sometimes - probably slight enough that people wouldn't really notice if I didn't get frustrated and say, "Darn, I'm losing my words!" I do find academic writing a lot more difficult, and my personal writing style has changed as I've recovered. I still recognize myself in my own style, but it feels very different to me...I'm not sure whether that's stroke-related or whether it's just my evolution as a writer...

    I may have done physio in front of a mirror, but I wasn't aware of it. Your comments about it remind of why ballet students do exercises in front of the's interesting how small adjustments can make a large difference to how we carry ourselves and how we move...