Original Research

Current knowledge and practice of post-stroke unilateral spatial neglect rehabilitation: A cross-sectional survey of South African neurorehabilitation physiotherapists

Chuka I. Umeonwuka, Ronel Roos, Veronica Ntsiea
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 78, No 1 | a1624 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v78i1.1624 | © 2022 Chuka I. Umeonwuka, Ronel Roos, Veronica Ntsiea | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 September 2021 | Published: 30 March 2022

About the author(s)

Chuka I. Umeonwuka, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ronel Roos, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Veronica Ntsiea, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Unilateral spatial neglect (USN) affects the rehabilitation process leading to poor functional outcomes after stroke. South African physiotherapists’ level of uptake of available evidence in USN rehabilitation and the barriers they encounter are not known.

Objectives: To evaluate knowledge, current practice enablers and barriers to USN management in stroke survivors amongst physiotherapists in South Africa.

Methods: Our cross-sectional survey used a total sampling technique. Questionnaires were sent to neurorehabilitation physiotherapists in South Africa. Descriptive and inferential statistics analysed the data.

Results: The overall knowledge score of USN was 14.11 ± 5.23 of a total of 25. The knowledge was good for definitions of USN; moderate for incidences, causes, screening, diagnosis and prognosis of USN and poor for pharmacological approaches to the management of USN. A significant low positive correlation between respondents’ age (r = 0.46; p = 0.016) and years of practice as a physiotherapist (r = 0.43; p = 0.026) and knowledge of USN was found. The most frequently utilised intervention was constraint-induced movement therapy; the commonly utilised assessment tool was the comb and razor test. ‘Inadequate therapy time’ (55.56%) and ‘lack of relevant equipment for rehabilitation of USN’ (38.89%) were identified as major barriers to USN rehabilitation. Major enablers to USN rehabilitation were the ‘presence of multidisciplinary stroke team in clinical practice’ (83.35%) and ‘availability of adequate staff’ (76.47%).

Conclusion: Physiotherapists demonstrated a fair knowledge of USN although knowledge about pharmacological management of USN was modest. Current practice in post-stroke USN by South African neuro-physiotherapists follows current evidence and practice guidelines.

Clinical implication: Our study shows the level of knowledge and current practice of post-stroke USN rehabilitation. The demonstrated fair knowledge of USN may be improved through training, curriculum modifications or continuing professional development. Identified barriers to the rehabilitation of post-stroke USN can assist health policy, managers and clinicians to improve stroke-specific care.


Keywords

unilateral spatial neglect; South Africa; knowledge; stroke; physiotherapists

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