International Experts Reach Consensus on the Labeling of Spatial Neglect

Using a modified Delphi method, an international team of rehabilitation researchers and clinicians adopted ‘spatial neglect’ as the standard term for spatial deficits that complicate recovery from brain injury and stroke

East Hanover, NJ – May 29, 2024 – A consensus has been achieved by an international team of rehabilitation researchers and clinicians on the standardized labeling of spatial neglect, a common disorder following neurological injury, which is characterized by a lack of awareness or response to objects or stimuli on the side opposite a brain lesion. The panel reached a 75% consensus to adopt "spatial neglect" as the standard term for the disorder.

The consensus paper, titled “An International and Multidisciplinary Consensus on the Labeling of Spatial Neglect Using a Modified Delphi Method,”(doi: 10.1016/j.arrct.2024.100343) was published open access on May 4, 2024, in the Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation.

Timothy Rich, PhD, OTR/L, and Peii Chen, PhD
Timothy Rich, PhD, OTR/L is a research scientist and Peii Chen, PhD, is a senior research scientist, in the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Chen directs the Center’s Spatial Attention, Awareness, and Ability Laboratory.

Spatial neglect, often experienced by survivors of stroke and traumatic brain injury, has been described using more than 200 different labels, leading to significant challenges in diagnosis, treatment, and research. Unifying the terminology across clinical and research settings will facilitate clearer communication among clinicians, patients, and families, streamline literature searches, and support the development of targeted interventions.

The team, led by Timothy J. Rich, PhD, OTR/L, research scientist in the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, employed a modified Delphi method. The Delphi method, a systematic and iterative survey process, involved 66 experts from diverse disciplines across five continents. Starting from a pool of 18 labels, panelists participated in four rounds of surveys, gradually refining their responses to reach a consensus.

“Standardizing how we describe spatial neglect is a critical step in enhancing both clinical practice and research,” explained Dr. Rich. “Using uniform terminology ensures that we are all speaking the same language, which is vital for advancing our understanding and treatment of this complex disorder.”

Peii Chen, PhD, from Kessler Foundation, the senior author who did not participate in the Delphi surveys because of her role in the project, added, “I hope researchers and clinicians will adopt ‘spatial neglect’ soon if they have not used this term previously, which will help the field to move beyond the debate about labeling.”

Funding and Support: Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life Improvement; NIH-NICHD grant number 1K01HD109446-01A1; Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Learn about the Foundation’s ongoing studies in rehabilitation research at Join Our Research Studies | Kessler Foundation, or contact [email protected].

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research. Our scientists seek to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for adults and children with neurological and developmental disabilities of the brain and spinal cord including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and autism. Kessler Foundation also leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

For more information, contact:
Deb Hauss, [email protected]
Carolann Murphy, [email protected]

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