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No Sense of Direction

Personal Stories

No Sense of Direction

Topographic disorientation (TD) is one of many disorders that can arise after a brain injury, where the person will experience difficulty to find one's way in familiar surroundings. This disorder can be very disabling yet may go undetected without the appropriate neuropsychological study being done.

This inability to navigate through the environment usually involves the person being unable to learn routes in new environments as well. TD is generally viewed as an impairment in spatial memory and has been given different names such as visual disorientation, topographic amnesia and spatial disorientation.

I believe there can be different problems associated with topographical disorientation and therefore different ways of handling difficulties. The most challenging aspect for me is recognising and remembering routes and places and the inconsistency of being in a place I am familiar with through frequent use but being totally disoriented at a particular time.

It seems that sense of direction is totally lost but if it is a regularly used route I do it by habit. Except and until I take an unfamiliar turn when walking or go into a shopping centre by a different entrance. If using public transport some practice is required to firstly get on the bus or train that is heading in the right direction, and then when alighting to again turn in the right direction.

Many times when I've been lost I have kept returning to the same area, walking in circles, until I ask someone to direct me to a particular landmark from which I know I can find my way. I've learnt to stay calm even when I feel overwhelmingly frustrated at my inadequacy and to allow a lot of time when going anywhere unfamiliar.

I also 'practise' going somewhere new by doing it with a family member beforehand until I'm reasonably confident about going solo.
I have read recently that the disorder can be associated with spatial neglect and I think therefore it is related to the hemianopia which resulted from my stroke. Perhaps the lack of vision combined with some damage to my 'direction finding area' produces topographical disorientation.

I'd like to ask if there is perhaps a reader who has topographical disorientation and/or focal epilepsy. It would be very interesting to exchange some difficulties and strategies associated with both. We all seek answers and remedies, strategies and skills. If any reader has any information to share please Contact Us.


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