Eating difficulties among patients 3 months after stroke in relation to the acute phase

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This paper is a report of a study comparing eating difficulties among patients 3 months after stroke in relation to the acute phase.


There is limited knowledge of patients with eating problems early after stroke, hence the progress of eating abilities needs to be further explored.


From March 2007 to June 2008 36 stroke patients with 2–7 eating difficulties or problems with reduced alertness or swallowing in the acute phase were included. Eating difficulties were detected using a structured protocol of observation of meals. In addition, stroke severity (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale), functional status (Barthel Index), unilateral neglect (Line Bisection test and Letter Cancellation test), psychological well-being (The Well-being Questionnaire-12), nutritional status (Mini Nutritional Assessment) and oral status (Revised Oral Assessment Guide) were assessed.


There were 36 participants (58% female) with a median age of 74·5 years. The proportion of eating difficulties decreased significantly from the acute phase to the 3-month follow-up in ‘sitting position’, ‘managing food on the plate’ and ‘manipulating food in the mouth’ and increased regarding inadequate food consumption. Improvements were shown at 3 months in stroke severity, functional status, nutritional status and neglect. Oral status and psychological well-being remained unchanged.


The majority of eating problems persisted 3 months after stroke despite a marked improvement in most of the physical functions. The unchanged psychological well-being and sustained problems with food consumption indicate that factors other than physical function should be taken into account regarding eating difficulties poststroke.

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