Arm and Leg Paresis as Outcome Predictors in Stroke Rehabilitation


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Abstract

I used leg and arm paresis to predict outcome measured as extremity function in a prospective study of 75 consecutive hemiplegic patients admitted to an inpatient stroke rehabilitation unit. In each patient, extremity paresis was quantified according to the five-point scoring system advised by the Medical Research Council, upper extremity function was quantified using the Barthel Index subscore for feeding and dressing the upper body, and lower extremity function was quantified according to a five-point scoring of the ability to walk. Improvement was recorded for upper extremity function in 52% of the patients and for lower extremity function in 89%. Best extremity function was reached a mean±SEM of 9±3 and 10±4 weeks after stroke for the upper and lower extremities, respectively. In patients experiencing complete recovery, this occurred a mean±SEM of 7±2 weeks (for both upper and lower extremities) after the stroke. Only 8–11% of the patients with paresis scores of ≤2 regained independent extremity function after rehabilitation. Half of the patients with paresis scores of ≥3 regained independent extremity function after rehabilitation, while the other half were able to perform extremity function with only minimal assistance. As predictors of extremity function, the Barthel Index subscore was slightly better (r = 0.64) than paresis score (r = 0.58). However, because evaluation of extremity paresis is easy, it appears to be useful as a preliminary predictor of outcome following stroke.

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