What is visual scanning?

Visual scanning is a type of skill that can be used therapeutically for certain conditions that result in visual neglect, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, or brain tumors in some regions of the brain- particularly the right hemisphere (Li and Malhotra, 2015).

Neglect is typically experienced on the contralateral side of a lesion, meaning that in most cases, neglect is experienced on the left side of the patient's vision due to a right-sided injury.

Visual neglect is not due to a primary sensory deficit but rather an issue of the attention paid to one side of the patient's visual field due to the neurological injury (Whitehouse et al., 2019).

As such, in some cases, it can be diagnosed and potentially improved through visual scanning tools designed to identify problems with a patient's visual scanning skills caused by neglect and improve visual perceptual skills through integration with further occupational therapy.

Visual scanning tools can be in the form of cancellation tasks, typically involving crossing out all of a particular symbol or letter, visual search tasks such as card games or playing cards, or reading tasks designed to help your patient pay attention to the impacted side of their vision.

There are many benefits to using visual scanning tools to support patients with visual perceptual deficits.

The benefits of visual scanning

Encourage attention on the affected side

Visual scanning exercises help patients with visual neglect redirect their attention to the neglected side, promoting awareness and engagement with the neglected visual field, ultimately aiding rehabilitation.

Boost fine motor skills

By actively scanning and attending to visual stimuli on the neglected side, patients can enhance their fine motor skills through improved hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness, fostering better control over movements in the affected area.

Easy to administer

Visual scanning activities are straightforward and can be easily incorporated into therapy sessions, making them a convenient and accessible rehabilitation tool for healthcare professionals working with patients experiencing visual neglect.

Monitor patient progress

Visual scanning tasks provide measurable benchmarks for healthcare providers to monitor patients' progress with visual neglect, allowing for the adjustment of therapeutic interventions based on the individual's advancements and specific needs.

Versatile therapeutic activity

Visual scanning exercises can be adapted to suit a variety of settings and patient preferences, making them versatile therapeutic activities tailored to the specific needs and interests of each patient undergoing rehabilitation for visual neglect.

How to use Visual Scanning Worksheets

Our visual scanning worksheet is a simple therapeutic tool you can use with your patients immediately. Just follow these simple steps to get started.

Step 1. Download the worksheet

You can download your free copy of our printable visual scanning worksheets using the link on this page or access it from within the Carepatron app, where you will find other resources for occupational therapists.

Step 2. Patient details

We have provided space for the date and your patient's name to help store this worksheet in your client's record. Adding the date to each worksheet will allow you to monitor future progress more easily.

Step 3. Choose a letter for your patient to scan for

Pick a letter, any letter. We have ensured all letters are present in the letter search, so it's up to you which letter you ask your patient to scan the worksheet for. Depending on your patient's visual scanning skills, you can alter how you administer the activity. You may ask them to scan from left to right or give them a time limit to find as many instances of the letter as possible.

Step 4. Check their results

Once your patient has finished, check how they did. You can do this easily using the digital version of the visual scanning worksheets by using CTRL + F to highlight all instances of the letter they were scanning for.

Step 5. Interpret their results

Did your patient consistently miss the letters on one side of their vision? Or did they quickly find all instances of the letter regardless of its placement on the page? The next step is to assess your client's visual perceptual skills based on their visual scanning worksheets.

Visual scanning activities

Visual scanning worksheets for patients with visual neglect often include activities that encourage systematic exploration of the visual field. These may involve locating and circling specific objects on a page, connecting dots in a particular order, or identifying patterns within a complex image.

Additionally, activities that require the patient to follow lines, find objects, or complete visual puzzles are joint exercises that promote focused attention on the neglected side.

Regardless of the visual scanning activity, as long as your patient is encouraged to pay attention to the affected side of their vision actively, they will build up their ability and confidence in recognizing and attending to the impacted side of their vision.

Who can benefit from Visual Scanning Worksheets?

Visual scanning worksheets are particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing visual neglect, a condition commonly associated with neurological disorders such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. Patients with visual neglect may exhibit a reduced awareness of stimuli on one side of their visual field, and these worksheets serve as targeted interventions to retrain their visual attention and enhance overall visual perception.

Practitioners who may benefit from having visual scanning worksheets on hand for their patients include:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Geriatricians
  • Stroke rehabilitation therapists
  • Neurologists.

Visual scanning worksheets are adaptable to various age groups. They can be utilized in rehabilitation settings, making them valuable tools for healthcare professionals, therapists, and caregivers working with individuals with visual neglect.

Skills acquired through visual scanning

Engaging in visual scanning activities helps individuals with visual neglect develop and refine several crucial skills. First and foremost, these exercises improve attention and awareness of the neglected side, designed to address visual perceptual skills associated with visual neglect.

  • Visual perceptual tracking abilities
  • Fine motor skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Increased independence


Li, K., & Malhotra, P. A. (2015). Spatial neglect. Practical Neurology, 15(5), 333–339. https://doi.org/10.1136/practneurol-2015-001115

Whitehouse, C. E., Green, J., Giles, S. M., Rahman, R., Coolican, J., & Eskes, G. A. (2019). Development of the Halifax Visual Scanning Test: A New Measure of Visual-Spatial Neglect for Personal, Peripersonal, and Extrapersonal Space. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 25(05), 490–500. https://doi.org/10.1017/S135561771900002X

Is visual neglect an eye problem?
Is visual neglect an eye problem?

Commonly asked questions

Is visual neglect an eye problem?

No, visual neglect is a problem with perception rather than a problem with actual visual acuity. As such, it should be treated by a professional like a neurologist, occupational therapist, or other qualified professional.

Is there an answer key for this visual scanning worksheet?

We have not provided an answer key as this worksheet can be used for any alphabet letter, meaning 26 answer keys! Instead, one way to quickly see each letter's location is to use CTRL + F on the digital version of the template to highlight the letter you want to find.

What is a good score for visual scanning?

The worksheet is not designed as a test but as a therapeutic tool to help your patients actively attend to the affected side of their vision. As such, the time to find all letters they are scanning for should only be compared to your patient's previous time to monitor their progress during their therapy sessions.

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