Effectiveness of an intensive outpatient rehabilitation program for postacute stroke patients

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1996 Mar-Apr;75(2):114-20. doi: 10.1097/00002060-199603000-00006.


The effectiveness of ongoing rehabilitation services for postacute stroke survivors is poorly documented. We designed a randomized control, single-blinded study to demonstrate the effectiveness of intensive outpatient therapy. The treatment intervention consisted of 1 hr each of physical and occupational therapy, four times per week, for 12 wk; therapy focused on neuromuscular facilitation and functional tasks. All subjects were screened before the therapies and after 3 mo and 9 mo. Forty-nine stroke survivors, who were at least l yr (mean, 2.9 yr) poststroke, were randomized with two treated patients to each control (no treatment supplied). All patients had received inpatient rehabilitation at the time of their acute stroke, but no patient had any ongoing therapy within the last 6 mo. The outcome measures included the Functional Independence Measure (FIM), Brunnstrom stages of motor recovery, timed mobility tasks, and the Jebson hand evaluation. We also evaluated the level of depression, self-esteem, and socialization. The treated patients demonstrated an improvement of 6.6 points over the 3 mo of therapy compared with only 1.5 points in the control group in the FIM motor score transformed using Rasch analysis. The change from time 0 to 3 mo was significant in the treated group but not in the controls. Treated patients maintained their gains at the 9-mo follow-up, and controls lost ground. The treated group improved in terms of socialization and self-esteem as evidenced by a lower Sickness Impact Profile, whereas the controls tended to get worse. There was a trend toward less depression, but this did not reach a P = 0.05 level of significance. This study demonstrates that significant functional gains can still be attained in the postacute stroke survivor, despite prior inpatient rehabilitation services.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome