Background: Knowing the types and frequency of medical complications of stroke patients during inpatient rehabilitation, together with the ability to identify high-risk patients, would be extremely helpful for providing the best possible physiologic environment for their recovery.
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted. Charts of 346 stroke patients who were consecutively admitted or transferred for inpatient rehabilitation in a tertiary care hospital from October 1997 to September 1998 were reviewed. Demographic and stroke characteristics, preexisting neuromedical conditions, neurological deficits, disability level, medical complications occurring during inpatient rehabilitation, and complications that required transfer off the rehabilitation ward were recorded for each patient. Univariate and stepwise multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the factors that were significantly associated with the occurrence of any medical complication.
Results: Forty-four percent of patients experienced 1 or more complications. The most common complications were musculoskeletal pain (15.0%), urinary tract infection (13.6%), depression (9.3%), upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding (4.9%), and pneumonia (4.9%). Ten patients were transferred to the acute care ward during admission because of severe medical complications. Among them, 5 had a recurrent stroke, 3 had pneumonia, 1 had ventriculoperitoneal shunt obstruction, and 1 had organic psychosis. The occurrence of any of the medical complications was significantly associated with the following factors which were presented at admission or transfer to the rehabilitation ward: being female, having no voluntary movement of the affected hand, being more functionally dependent, and having to undergo Foley catheter insertion.
Conclusions: Medical complications were common among stroke patients undergoing inpatient rehabilitation. Prevention and proper management are also very important in the rehabilitation ward.