Often individuals who present with a sensory impairment can:
- appear to be clumsy
- have difficulty positioning their limbs correctly
- neglect their limbs
- find it difficult to regulate grip pressure
- frequently injure themselves
If these symptoms are apparent a therapy team can assess these difficulties, this can often be completed via a therapist analysing the completion of day to day tasks, such as brushing teeth. A therapist may look at how this task is completed with then without visual feedback.
What are sensory impairments?
Sensory impairments can often be categorised into three areas:
- Tactile – If there are any impairments sensory feedback can be impaired and this can be linked to pain, pressure, touch, temperature, localisation of touch.
- Proprioception – This is an awareness of the position of movement of your body. For example, if we closed our eyes and someone moved our arm to a different position, we could sense what position the arm was in. Those with proprioception impairment can experience spatial neglect and a lack of coordination.
- Stereognosis – This is the skill where objects can be identified by touch alone.
Strategies to help manage day to day life
- Encourage the use of vision to compensate during tasks
- Encourage regular checking of the position of the affected limb
- If temperature is an issue, test water temperature with the other hand
- Use of easy grip handles on items like cutlery
- Practice scanning the environment particularly if spatial awareness is an issue
Reduce risk of falls at home, which can be increased when proprioception is affected. Do this by removing rugs, removing loose wires and decluttering
Explore sensory re-education techniques. This can be discussed with your occupational therapist. This will often involve handling different objects of different textures, finding objects without looking and practicing temperature differentiation