Training said to help stroke patients focus

Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:23pm EDT
 
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Having a stroke often robs people of the ability to focus, but victims who undertake attention-training exercises with a psychologist recover some of what they lost, researchers reported on Thursday.

Attention problems occur in more than half of all stroke patients and can lead to falls and injuries.

A team led by Suzanne Barker-Collo at the University of Auckland in New Zealand wanted to see if a training program already used in people with traumatic brain injury could help.

They studied 78 stroke survivors. About half got regular rehab and half were trained using Attention Process Training, where a psychologist guides patients through a workout in which they practice sustaining attention and paying attention to more than one thing at a time.

After an average of 14 hours of training, stroke survivors who got the training fared better on tests of attention than those who got standard rehab.

Writing in the journal Stroke, Barker-Collo said the special attention training "had a highly positive effect" but would need more study to see if it is cost effective or leads to other benefits, such as improvement in memory, she said.

(Editing by Andrew Stern and Todd Eastham)