Purpose: Stroke rehabilitation programmes aim to improve functional outcomes and quality of life. This study explored long-term outcomes in a cohort of people admitted to two acute stroke units with stroke. Comparisons were drawn between people with aphasia (PWA) and people without aphasia.
Methods: People admitted to hospital with a first stroke were assessed at 2-weeks, 3-months and 6-months post-stroke. Measures included: the Barthel Index for Activities of Daily Living (ADL), the Frenchay Aphasia Screening Test, the General Health Questionnaire-12 for emotional well-being and the Stroke and Aphasia Quality of Life Scale-39g. Extended ADL and social support were also measured at 3 and 6 months, with the Frenchay Activities Index and the Social Support Survey, respectively.
Results: Of 126 eligible participants, 96(76%) took part and 87(69%) were able to self-report. Self-report data are reported here. Although outcomes improved significantly across time, at 6 months people continued to experience substantial functional limitations (16% aphasic; 32% dependent on basic ADL); participation limitations (79% ≤30 on the FAI); high psychological distress (45%) and compromised quality of life (54% ≤4 on the SAQOL-39g). Levels of social support remained relatively stable. Though at 3-months post-stroke PWA were significantly more likely to experience high psychological distress (93% versus 50% for those without), across time, there were no significant differences between PWA and those without on psychological distress and also ADL and social support. There were, however, significant differences on extended ADL (F(1,68) = 7.80, p < 0.01) and quality of life (F(1,69) = 6.30, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: PWA participated in fewer activities and reported worse quality of life after stroke than people without aphasia, even when their physical abilities, well-being and social support were comparable. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.