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Half a world for some stroke victims


11 April 2004
A condition which leaves some stroke and head injury victims unable to see half their world will be the subject of a one-day symposium being hosted by Southern Cross University (SCU) this week.

The symposium, to be held at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour on Wednesday (April 14), has attracted experts in visual neglect from around the world.

The organiser, SCU psychology lecturer Dr Rick van der Zwan, said this was the first conference targeting visual neglect to be held in regional Australia and it had attracted a range of professionals including GPs and occupational therapists.

The speakers are Roberta Daini, from the University of Milan, Lorraine Boran and Stuart Smith, from the University of Dublin, and Jason Mattingley and Christopher Chambers, from the University of Melbourne.

Dr van der Zwan said visual spatial neglect was a neurological condition that arose as a consequence of a stroke or other brain injury.

“The defining characteristic of the condition is that sufferers fail to perceive or respond to objects located in one half of their visual field,” Dr Van Der Zwan said.

“They will look at a clock, but only see half a clock. Sufferers eat only the food located on one side of their dinner plate, or in the case of male sufferers, shave only one side of their face each morning.”

Dr van der Zwan said he hoped that the symposium would lead to further research in the field.

Media contact: Nigel Tapp 66203039 or mobile 0418 431484.