Intro: Post-acute stroke care in an inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) demonstrates better outcomes compared to a skilled nursing facility (SNF). With advancements in endovascular acute stroke, the impact that post-acute care plays is unclear. Here, we analyze a successful endovascular acute stroke trial to demonstrate that more improvement is seen in patients discharged to an IRF compared to a SNF.
Methods: From SWIFT PRIME, a prospective, multi-center randomized acute endovascular trial, subject characteristics, and modified Rankin scores (mRS) were obtained. Post-acute hospital discharge was classified as home, IRF, and SNF. A favorable outcome was defined as 90 day mRS ≤ 2 and improvement was defined as ≥ 1 point decrease in mRS score. The effect of each disposition on a favorable outcome was calculated overall and stratified by stroke severity class (defined as discharge mRS 0-3, 4, 5)
Results: A total of 165 subjects (mean age 64.8 years, mean initial NIHSS= 16.5, and 50 % male) were analyzed. Discharge disposition included: 51 (31%) going home, 92 (56%) IRF, 22 (13%) SNF. The baseline characteristics were similar between patients that went to IRF and SNF: age (p =0.76), gender (p= 0.81), baseline NIHSS (p=0.055), final infarct volumes (p=0.20), and recanalization rates (p=0.19). However, IRF subjects had lower NIHSS (p<0.001) and mRS (p=0.017) at day 7. Time to treatment defined as symptom onset to groin puncture was not significantly associated with discharge disposition (p=0.119). Only 1/22 (4.5%) subjects who were discharged to SNF achieved a 90 day mRS ≤2, compared to 41/92 (44.6%) in the IRF group or 48/51 (94.1%) in the home group (p < 0.001). When stratified by stroke severity: for mRS=0-3, there were no differences in favorable outcomes; mRS=4, 1/7 (14.3%) showed improvement at SNF compared to 21/27 (77.8%) at IRF (p=0.008); mRS =5, 5/14 (35.7%) showed improvement at SNF compared to 28/37 (75.7%) at IRF (p=0.013).
Conclusions: Despite having similar characteristics following acute stroke treatment, not only did subjects who went to SNF compared to IRF have more unfavorable outcomes, they were less likely to make improvement. These findings show the continued importance of post-stroke rehabilitation, even in the endovascular era.