The effects of long-term rehabilitation therapy on poststroke hemiplegic patients.
Rehabilitation therapy is believed to be useful during the first few months after stroke when recovery usually takes place. However, evidence exists that this may not be the rule for all stroke victims. Therefore, we investigated, in a selected group of poststroke patients, the profile of recovery in response to long-term rehabilitation therapy.
Fifty-one hemiplegic subjects unable to walk 3 months after stroke were enrolled in this study. Patients underwent consecutive periods of rehabilitation up to 2 years after the cerebrovascular accident. Autonomy in daily living activities and the degree of neurological compromission were periodically assessed with the Barthel Index and a neurological scale designed for hemiplegic subjects. The main features of the patients were also evaluated as a possible predictor of outcome.
In a consistent percentage of the patients, significant gains in gait and daily living abilities were observed during the first year and, in individual cases, during the second year after stroke. At the end of the study, 74% of the patients regained their capacity to walk without assistance, and up to 79% had a Barthel Index score above 70. Sphincter function, level of neurological impairments, and capacity in daily living activities are significantly related to the outcome of the patients as a whole but were not useful to anticipate the outcome of each patient.
These results suggest that disabled poststroke subjects may attain significative functional improvements in response to prolonged restorative therapy. However, the possibility of predicting the outcome of individual patients appears the major problem to solve in order to assign to long-term rehabilitation programs only patients who will benefit from the therapy.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association