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Health Information and Tools > After Brain Injury > Changes After a Brain Injury > Perception >  After Brain Injury Guide: Changes in Spatial Relations
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Changes After a Brain Injury

Changes in Spatial Relations

Sometimes a person has problems relating to space after a brain injury (for example, he has trouble understanding where an object, like his arm or leg, is in space). This is called proprioception. An example of this is confusion would be up/down, in/out, and front/back.

It also includes having trouble judging distance between two or more objects.

People with a spatial relations syndrome may have trouble:

  • finding a hairbrush in a cluttered drawer
  • finding the brakes on the wheelchair
  • telling a knife from a fork or finding the silverware beside the plate
  • finding the way to a room
  • judging the height of steps
  • judging distance, such as reaching for things on a table or counter

Tips to help a person with spatial relations changes

  • Organize drawers and cupboards and keep everything in the same place.
  • Encourage him to slow down and look at areas carefully by looking and feeling. Have him practice locking and unlocking the brakes on the wheelchair when transferring.
  • Remove all extra cutlery from the sides of the plate. Give him the correct utensil to use with the type of food.
  • Leave a light on in the bedroom or bathroom and remind him to look for the light. Labelling rooms with a sign or coloured arrow may also help.
  • Have him use both hands to feel for objects.
  • Have him move slowly, feeling for the edges of steps with his toes when going up and down stairs. Brightly-coloured tape across the edges of each step on the stairways may also help.
  • Gently ask him to move if he’s standing too close or too far away.

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