Background: Stroke-unit care can be valuable for stroke patients in hospital, but effectiveness of outpatient care is less certain. We aimed to assess the effects of therapy-based rehabilitation services targeted at stroke patients resident in the community within 1 year of stroke onset or discharge from hospital.
Methods: We did a systematic review of randomised trials of outpatient services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and multidisciplinary teams. We used Cochrane collaboration methodology.
Findings: We identified a heterogeneous group of 14 trials (1617 patients). Therapy-based rehabilitation services for stroke patients living at home reduced the odds of deteriorating in personal activities of daily living (odds ratio 0.72 [95% CI 0.57-0.92], p=0.009) and increased ability of patients to do personal activities of daily living (standardised mean difference 0.14 [95% CI 0.02-0.25], p=0.02). For every 100 stroke patients resident in the community receiving therapy-based rehabilitation services, seven (95% CI 2-11) would not deteriorate.
Interpretation: Therapy-based rehabilitation services targeted at selected patients resident in the community after stroke improve ability to undertake personal activities of daily living and reduce risk of deterioration in ability. These findings should be considered in future service planning.