Changes in perception

Perception is the way your brain tells your body about what is going on in the space around you. Here are some areas of perception that may be affected by stroke and some tips for dealing with them.

Areas of perception

1. Vision: may be affected several ways.


  • double vision
  • partial loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • blurred vision
  • loss of visual field (blind spots).

Tips and strategies

  • Lighthouse strategy: This means that you turn your head from side to side using the visual field you still have, in a sweeping motion to look at the whole room. This makes up for the loss of visual field.
  • Put signs on the doors, such as “bathroom” to help you find your way.
  • Use tools such as prism glasses and patches as recommended by your healthcare team.

2. Sensation: feeling may be lost on the side of your body affected by stroke. This can put you at risk for injury.

Examples: you may not be aware of a shoe rubbing or hot liquid in a cup.

Tips and strategies

  • Use a silicone glove when handling hot pans.
  • Adjust the water heater to a safe temperature.
  • Check the skin on the affected side for red marks.

3. Spatial relations: estimating or judging the space between things around you.

Examples: you might:

  • misjudge the height of steps or bathtubs.
  • trip over rugs, steps or uneven pavement.
  • miss the chair when sitting down

Tips and strategies

  • Understand and identify safety issues in your environment.
  • Tape the edges of tables and stairs to provide a point of reference.
  • Always make sure you can feel the seat of the chair you are about to sit on.

4. Time awareness: recognition of time passing.

Examples: you may feel that time is passing more slowly or quickly than it really is. For instance, you may think it is time for lunch soon after breakfast.

Tips and strategies

  • Keep clocks and calendars handy.

5. Unilateral body neglect: a decreased awareness or failure to attend to one side of the body.

Examples: you may be unaware or less aware of the side of your body affected by stroke, so you do not take care of it. You might put only one arm into a shirt.

Tips and strategies

  • Learning to scan the neglected side with your eyes (visual scanning). Or use a mirror to remind yourself of the affected side.
  • Include your affected side in any task.
  • Rub the affected arm and leg. Post reminders such as, “Rub your left arm.”

6. Visual neglect: seeing only part of what is in front of you.

Examples: You may only recognize or perceive part of the table or plate.

Tips and strategies

  • Have people approach you from your neglected side to increase awareness.
  • Place articles you use frequently such as phone or remote on your neglected side.
Where to get support:

Talk about your perception problems with your healthcare team and find out who can provide the best support for each problem. Make sure your care partner, family and friends understand where you are having challenges, so they can support you.

Related information

To find useful services to help you on your journey with stroke, see our services and resources listing.

Managing unilateral spatial neglect after stroke (video)