A prospective observational study of outcomes from rehabilitation of elderly patients with moderate to severe cognitive impairment

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To evaluate rehabilitation outcomes in patients with moderate to severe cognitive impairment.


Prospective observational cohort study.


Rehabilitation unit for older people.


A total of 116 patients (70F) mean age (SD) 86.3 (6.4). Group 1: 89 patients with moderate cognitive impairment (Mini-Mental State Examination 11-20); and Group 2: 27 patients with severe cognitive impairment (Mini-Mental State Examination 0-10).


A personalised rehabilitation plan.

Main measures:

Barthel Activity of Daily Living score on admission and discharge, length of stay and discharge destination.


Of 116 patients, 64 (55.2%) showed an improvement in Barthel score. Mini-Mental State Examination was significantly higher in those who improved, 15.4 (SD 3.7) vs.13.2 (SD 5.1): p = 0.01. The mean Barthel score improved in both groups; Group 1 - 14.7 (SD 19.1) vs. Group 2 - 9.3 (SD 16.3): p = 0.17. Of 84 home admissions in Group 1, more patients returning home showed improvements of at least 5 points in the Barthel score compared with nursing/residential home discharges (32/37 - 86.5% vs. 10/28 - 35.7%: p = 0.0001). In Group 2 of 17 home admissions, 6/6 (100%) home discharges showed improvement compared with 3/7 (42.8%) discharges to nursing/residential home (p = 0.07). In Group 1, a discharge home was associated with significantly greater improvement in number of Barthel items than a nursing/residential home discharge (3.27 (SD 2.07) vs. 1.86 (SD 2.32): p = 0.007). A similar non-significant pattern was noted for severe cognitive impairment patients (3.5 (3.06) vs. 1.14 (1.06); p = 0.1).


Patients with moderate to severe cognitive impairment demonstrated significant improvements in Barthel score and Barthel items showing that such patients can and do improve with rehabilitation.

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