Horn SD, DeJong G, Smout RJ, Gassaway J, James R, Conroy B. Stroke rehabilitation patients, practice, and outcomes: is earlier and more aggressive therapy better?
Objective: To examine associations of patient characteristics, rehabilitation therapies, neurotropic medications, nutritional support, and timing of initiation of rehabilitation with functional outcomes and discharge destination for inpatient stroke rehabilitation patients.
Design: Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting: Five U.S. inpatient rehabilitation facilities.
Participants: Post-stroke rehabilitation patients (N=830; age, >18 y) with moderate or severe strokes, from the Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Outcomes Project database.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: Discharge total, motor, and cognitive FIM scores and discharge destination.
Results: Controlling for patient differences, various activities and interventions were associated with better outcomes including earlier initiation of rehabilitation, more time spent per day in higher-level rehabilitation activities such as gait, upper-extremity control, and problem solving, use of newer psychiatric medications, and enteral feeding. Several findings part with conventional practice, such as starting gait training in the first 3 hours of physical therapy, even for low-level patients, was associated with better outcomes.
Conclusions: Specific therapy activities and interventions are associated with better outcomes. Earlier rehabilitation admission, higher-level activities early in the rehabilitation process, tube feeding, and newer medications are associated with better stroke rehabilitation outcomes.