Background: Neurological rehabilitation after stroke lowers rates of death, dependency, and institutionalization. Little research has yet addressed the factors affecting the selection of ischemic stroke patients for rehabilitative treatment.
Method: The database for this study consisted of all cases of ischemic stroke (ICD-10 code I63) that occurred in 2010 and 2011 in the neurological inpatient care facilities participating in the "Stroke Register Northwest Germany" quality assurance project. A primary target group for rehabilitation was defined a priori (Barthel Index at discharge ≤ 65, no premorbid nursing dependency, no transfer to another acute-care hospital after initial treatment of stroke). Among these patients, factors potentially affecting the provision of rehabilitative treatment were studied with binary logistic regression and multilevel logistic regression.
Results: There were 96 955 cases of ischemic stroke in the 127 participating hospitals. 40.8% and 11.4% of these patients underwent neurological and geriatric rehabilitation, respectively. The primary target group for rehabilitation contained 14 486 patients, 14.9% of whom underwent no rehabilitation after their acute treatment. The chances of undergoing subsequent rehabilitation were higher for patients with paresis and dysarthria on admission. Female sex, older age, impaired consciousness at admission, prior history of stroke, and lack of counseling by the hospital social services were all associated with a lower probability of undergoing rehabilitation.
Conclusion: In this study, 54.4% of all ischemic stroke patients and 85.1% of all patients in a primary target group for rehabilitation that was defined a priori underwent rehabilitation after acute care for stroke. Older patients and those who had had a previous stroke were less likely to undergo rehabilitation. Counseling by hospital social services increased the probability of rehabilitation. The potential exclusion of stroke patients from rehabilitation because of old age should be critically examined in every relevant case.