Purpose: To present the current state of knowledge regarding return to work (RTW) following stroke.
Method: A comprehensive review of the current stroke rehabilitation literature pertaining to prognostic and treatment factors for RTW following stroke.
Results: Stroke is a major healthcare problem and one of the most expensive diseases in modern society. Stroke results not only in impairment and limitation in basic daily activities; it also impacts on participation in community activities, such as returning to work. Return to work in post-stroke patients has been reported to range between 19% and 73%. Various studies report on return to work in diverse populations, using different follow-up periods, while utilizing variable definitions of stroke and successful work outcomes. The factors positively related to RTW in stroke patients, as found in the literature, are age less then 65 years, high education level and white-collar employment. The significant negative predictor is the severity of stroke. This is indicated by neurological parameters including functional measures of the presence and extent of motor and cognitive impairment. Significantly, the side of the brain damaged and stroke location were not found to be correlated with RTW. Social and financial factors also significantly influence RTW.
Conclusions: RTW in stroke patients should be considered one of the indicators of a successful rehabilitation as it influences self-image, well-being and life satisfaction. There is still a considerable lack of knowledge regarding effective assessments and interventions in vocational rehabilitation in stroke patients.