Specialized stroke rehabilitation services in seven countries: Preliminary results from nine rehabilitation centers

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There is a lack of defined levels of rehabilitation, indicating possibly random content and access to specialized services.

Aims and/or hypothesis

The aim of the study was to perform a multinational descriptive study of specialized rehabilitation in persons with stroke, to elucidate what the different centers define as prerequisites for specialized rehabilitation, and to analyze whether these descriptions map to currently applied standards or constructs of specialized rehabilitation. A secondary aim was to look for similarities and differences between therapies and services for persons with stroke in the sub-acute stage in the different institutions.


Descriptive data of the collaborating centers regarding structure and processes of services were recorded and compared with the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine and Specialized Services National Definitions sets.


Comparisons of the definitions showed that all centers admitted severely disabled persons with stroke, in need of complex rehabilitation, and provided high levels of physical services, with specialized equipment and facilities. However, funding, size, university affiliation, quality accreditation, staffing levels, specialist training, cognitive and vocational services, coordination of the professional teams, admission procedures, time and type of therapies, estimated length of stay, and follow-up procedures differed between the centers.


This multinational study of specialized stroke rehabilitation centers shows that a universal definition of specialized rehabilitation is possible, even in quite different countries and settings, in terms of general principles. There were however differences in structures and procedures, which may influence patients' outcomes, indicating a need for refinement of the definitions to be globally applicable.

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