Background: Neuropsychological impairment after stroke when no motor, sensory or language deficits are left remains understudied. The primary aim of this study was to assess neuropsychological outcome in a specific population of patients after a first symptomatic stroke without previous cognitive decline and with a good motor, linguistic, and functional recovery (i.e. 'good outcome'). The secondary aims were to identify the profile of this potential impairment and relations between brain lesions and neuropsychological outcome.
Methods: Sixty consecutive patients were evaluated by a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment focusing specifically on executive and attentional functions but also on memory 109 days, on average, after the infarct. Patients were compared with 40 healthy controls matched for age and education.
Results: Patients showed lower performance in every cognitive domain compared with controls. Along with an important executive deficit, patients were also impaired on attention and memory. Patients were not more depressed than controls, although they were more apathetic. We also found a significant positive correlation between cognitive impairment and pre-existing white matter brain lesions assessed by MRI.
Conclusions: We report the first study examining the impact of a first stroke on cognition but also on psychiatric disorders in patients with good functional outcome. We found that patients considered as asymptomatic were, in fact, exhibiting a multidomain cognitive deficit that could impact return to life as before stroke.
© 2011 The Author(s). European Journal of Neurology © 2011 EFNS.