Background: Patterns of recovery provide useful information concerning the potential of physical recovery over time and therefore the setting of realistic goals for rehabilitation programs.
Objective: To compare the time course of trunk recovery with the patterns of recovery of arm, leg, and functional ability.
Methods: Consecutive stroke patients were recruited in 2 acute neurology wards. Participants were evaluated at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 and 6 months after stroke. Patients were assessed with the Trunk Impairment Scale, Fugl-Meyer arm and leg test, and Barthel Index.
Results: Thirty-two patients were included in the study. There were no dropouts. Repeated measures analysis of the recovery patterns of motor and functional performance revealed the most striking improvement for all measures from 1 week to 1 month (P value between .0021 and <.0001) and a significant improvement from 1 month to 3 months after stroke (P value ranges from .0008 to <.0001). No significant improvement was found between 3 and 6 months after stroke for any of the measures. Statistical analysis revealed no significant difference between time course of trunk, arm, leg, and functional recovery (P = .2565). No significant differences in level of motor and functional recovery were found at the different time points.
Conclusions: Separate analyses of motor and functional recovery patterns after stroke confirm the importance of the first month for recovery. Contrary to common belief, the time course of recovery of the trunk is similar to the recovery of arm, leg, and functional ability.