Objective: This study examined clinical, functional, and occupational factors associated with return to work within 18 months after stroke, specifically focusing on the impact of higher cortical dysfunction on return to work in the chronic phase.
Methods: This prospective cohort study in 21 hospitals specializing in clinical and occupational health recruited consecutive working-age inpatients receiving acute care for their first stroke (n = 351). A unified database was used to extract patient information from hospital records at the time of admission, discharge, and follow-up at 18 months post-stroke. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis was conducted to determine clinical, functional, and occupational factors influencing return to work within 18 months.
Results: Of 351 registered stroke patients (280 males, 71 females, mean age ± SD, 55.3 ± 7.2 years) who met inclusion criteria, 250 responded to the follow-up survey and 101 were lost to follow-up. Half (51%) succeeded in returning to work during the 18-month follow-up after stroke onset. After adjusting for age, gender, and Barthel index at initial rehabilitation, the following factors were identified as significant predictors of a return to work: white-collar versus blue-collar occupation (hazard ratio (HR) 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-2.2), no aphasia (HR 3.0; 95% CI 1.5-5.9), no attention dysfunction (HR 2.0; 95% CI 1.0-4.0), and walking ability (HR 3.1; 95% CI 1.3-7.1).
Conclusions: This study indicated the importance of tailored rehabilitation to alleviate the impact of higher cortical dysfunction and to support return to work by stroke survivors.