Non‐pharmacological interventions for spatial neglect or inattention following stroke and other non‐progressive brain injury

Verity Longley, Christine Hazelton, Calvin Heal, Alex Pollock, Kate Woodward-Nutt, Claire Mitchell, Gorana Pobric, Andy Vail, Audrey Bowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
People with spatial neglect after stroke or other brain injury have difficulty attending to one side of space. Various rehabilitation interventions have been used, but evidence of their benefit is unclear.

Objectives
The main objective was to determine the effects of non‐pharmacological interventions for people with spatial neglect after stroke and other adult‐acquired non‐progressive brain injury.

Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Stroke Group Trials Register (last searched October 2020), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; last searched October 2020), MEDLINE (1966 to October 2020), Embase (1980 to October 2020), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL; 1983 to October 2020), and PsycINFO (1974 to October 2020). We also searched ongoing trials registers and screened reference lists.

Selection criteria
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of any non‐pharmacological intervention specifically aimed at spatial neglect. We excluded studies of general rehabilitation and studies with mixed participant groups, unless separate neglect data were available.

Data collection and analysis
We used standard Cochrane methods. Review authors categorised the interventions into eight broad types deemed to be applicable to clinical practice through iterative discussion: visual interventions, prism adaptation, body awareness interventions, mental function interventions, movement interventions, non‐invasive brain stimulation, electrical stimulation, and acupuncture. We assessed the quality of evidence for each outcome using the GRADE approach.

Main results
We included 65 RCTs with 1951 participants, all of which included people with spatial neglect following stroke. Most studies measured outcomes using standardised neglect assessments. Fifty‐one studies measured effects on ADL immediately after completion of the intervention period; only 16 reported persisting effects on ADL (our primary outcome). One study (30 participants) reported discharge destination, and one (24 participants) reported depression. No studies reported falls, balance, or quality of life. Only two studies were judged to be entirely at low risk of bias, and all were small, with fewer than 50 participants per group. We found no definitive (phase 3) clinical trials. None of the studies reported any patient or public involvement.

Visual interventions versus any control: evidence is very uncertain about the effects of visual interventions for spatial neglect based on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL (2 studies, 55 participants) (standardised mean difference (SMD) ‐0.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) ‐0.57 to 0.49); measures of immediate functional ability in ADL; persisting standardised neglect assessments; and immediate neglect assessments.

Prism adaptation versus any control: evidence is very uncertain about the effects of prism adaptation for spatial neglect based on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL (2 studies, 39 participants) (SMD ‐0.29, 95% CI ‐0.93 to 0.35); measures of immediate functional ability in ADL; persisting standardised neglect assessments; and immediate neglect assessments.

Body awareness interventions versus any control: evidence is very uncertain about the effects of body awareness interventions for spatial neglect based on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL (5 studies, 125 participants) (SMD 0.61, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.97); measures of immediate functional ability in ADL; persisting standardised neglect assessments; immediate neglect assessments; and adverse events.

Mental function interventions versus any control: we found no trials of mental function interventions for spatial neglect reporting on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL. Evidence is very uncertain about the effects of mental function interventions on spatial neglect based on measures of immediate functional ability in ADL and immediate neglect assessments.

Movement interventions versus any control: we found no trials of movement interventions for spatial neglect reporting on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL. Evidence is very uncertain about the effects of body awareness interventions on spatial neglect based on measures of immediate functional ability in ADL and immediate neglect assessments.

Non‐invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) versus any control: evidence is very uncertain about the effects of NIBS on spatial neglect based on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL (3 studies, 92 participants) (SMD 0.35, 95% CI ‐0.08 to 0.77); measures of immediate functional ability in ADL; persisting standardised neglect assessments; immediate neglect assessments; and adverse events.

Electrical stimulation versus any control: we found no trials of electrical stimulation for spatial neglect reporting on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL. Evidence is very uncertain about the effects of electrical stimulation on spatial neglect based on immediate neglect assessments.

Acupuncture versus any control: we found no trials of acupuncture for spatial neglect reporting on measures of persisting functional ability in ADL. Evidence is very uncertain about the effects of acupuncture on spatial neglect based on measures of immediate functional ability in ADL and immediate neglect assessments.

Authors' conclusions
The effectiveness of non‐pharmacological interventions for spatial neglect in improving functional ability in ADL and increasing independence remains unproven. Many strategies have been proposed to aid rehabilitation of spatial neglect, but none has yet been sufficiently researched through high‐quality fully powered randomised trials to establish potential or adverse effects. As a consequence, no rehabilitation approach can be supported or refuted based on current evidence from RCTs. As recommended by a number of national clinical guidelines, clinicians should continue to provide rehabilitation for neglect that enables people to meet their rehabilitation goals. Clinicians and stroke survivors should have the opportunity, and are strongly encouraged, to participate in research. Future studies need to have appropriate high‐quality methodological design, delivery, and reporting to enable appraisal and interpretation of results. Future studies also must evaluate outcomes of importance to patients, such as persisting functional ability in ADL. One way to improve the quality of research is to involve people with experience with the condition in designing and running trials.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages208
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • activities of daily living; cognitive behavioral therapy; perceptual disorders [etiology, rehabilitation]; randomized controlled trials as topic; sensation disorders [etiology, rehabilitation]; space perception; stroke [complications]; stroke rehabilitation; humans

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