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Changes in perception

Knowing where things are in space

After a brain injury, you may have problems knowing where things are in the space around you. This is called your spatial relation. For example, you may have trouble understanding where something is in space or where your arm or leg is. This may cause you to have trouble:

  • knowing what’s up or down, in or out, or in the front or back
  • finding something (like a hairbrush) in a drawer full of many things
  • finding the brakes on the wheelchair
  • telling a knife from a fork or finding cutlery beside a plate
  • finding the way into a room
  • judging the height of steps
  • judging the distance between 2 things
  • judging how far to reach for things on a table or counter

Tips for family and caregivers

  • Organize drawers and cupboards, but keep things in the same place.
  • Remove any extra cutlery (forks, spoons, and knives) they don’t need from the sides of their plate.
  • Leave a light on in the bedroom or bathroom. Remind them to look for the light.
  • Label rooms with a sign or coloured arrow.
  • Put bright-coloured tape across the edges of each step on stairways.
  • Have them use both hands to feel for things.
  • Gently ask them to move a bit further away if they’re standing too close. Ask them to move closer if they’re too far away.
  • Encourage them to look, move, and feel slowly and carefully. For example, have them:
    • practice locking and unlocking the brakes on the wheelchair when getting in or out
    • feel for the edges of steps with their toes when they go up and down stairs​

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