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April 2017 Monthly Abstract

Early rehabilitation after stroke

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Early rehabilitation is recommended in many guidelines, with limited evidence to guide practice. Brain neurobiology suggests that early training, at the right dose, will aid recovery. In this review, we highlight recent trials of early mobilization, aphasia, dysphagia and upper limb treatment in which intervention is commenced within 7 days of stroke and discuss future research directions. RECENT FINDINGS: Trials in this early time window are few. Although the seminal AVERT trial suggests that a cautious approach is necessary immediately (<24 h) after stroke, early mobility training and mobilization appear well tolerated, with few reasons to delay initiating some rehabilitation within the first week. The results of large clinical trials of early aphasia therapy are on the horizon, and examples of targeted upper limb treatments with better patient selection are emerging. SUMMARY: Early rehabilitation trials are complex, particularly those that intervene across acute and rehabilitation care settings, but these trials are important if we are to optimize recovery potential in the critical window for repair. Concerted efforts to standardize 'early' recruitment, appropriately stratify participants and implement longer term follow-up is needed. Trial standards are improving. New recommendations from a recent Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Roundtable will help drive new research.

Bernhardt J, Godecke E, Johnson L, Langhorne P. Early rehabilitation after stroke. Current opinion in neurology. 2016.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27845945

March 2017 Monthly Abstract

Can Neurological Biomarkers of Brain Impairment Be Used to Predict Poststroke Motor Recovery? A Systematic Review.

Background. There is growing interest to establish recovery biomarkers, especially neurological biomarkers, in order to develop new therapies and prediction models for the promotion of stroke rehabilitation and recovery. However, there is no consensus among the neurorehabilitation community about which biomarker(s) have the highest predictive value for motor recovery. Objective. To review the evidence and determine which neurological biomarker(s) meet the high evidence quality criteria for use in predicting motor recovery. Methods. We searched databases for prognostic neuroimaging/neurophysiological studies. Methodological quality of each study was assessed using a previously employed comprehensive 15-item rating system. Furthermore, we used the GRADE approach and ranked the overall evidence quality for each category of neurologic biomarker. Results. Seventy-one articles met our inclusion criteria; 5 categories of neurologic biomarkers were identified: diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), conventional structural MRI (sMRI), and a combination of these biomarkers. Most studies were conducted with individuals after ischemic stroke in the acute and/or subacute stage (~70%). Less than one-third of the studies (21/71) were assessed with satisfactory methodological quality (80% or more of total quality score). Conventional structural MRI and the combination biomarker categories ranked “high” in overall evidence quality. Conclusions. There were 3 prevalent methodological limitations: (a) lack of cross-validation, (b) lack of minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for motor outcomes, and (c) small sample size. More high-quality studies are needed to establish which neurological biomarkers are the best predictors of motor recovery after stroke. Finally, the quarter-century old methodological quality tool used here should be updated by inclusion of more contemporary methods and statistical approaches.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1545968316662708

Kim B, Winstein C. Can Neurological Biomarkers of Brain Impairment Be Used to Predict Poststroke Motor Recovery? A Systematic Review. Neurorehabilitation and neural repair. 2017;31(1):3-24.

Andrews AW, Li D, Freburger JK. Association of Rehabilitation Intensity for Stroke and Risk of Hospital Readmission. PHYS THER. 2015.

Abstract. 

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the use of rehabilitation in the acute care setting and its impact on hospital readmissions. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine the association between the intensity of rehabilitation services received during the acute care stay for stroke and the risk of 30-day and 90-day hospital readmission. DESIGN: A retrospective cohort analysis of all acute care hospitals in Arkansas and Florida was conducted. METHODS: Patients (N=64,065) who were admitted for an incident stroke in 2009 or 2010 were included. Rehabilitation intensity was categorized as none, low, medium-low, medium-high, or high based on the sum and distribution of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy charges within each hospital. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate hazard ratios, controlling for demographic characteristics, illness severity, comorbidities, hospital variables, and state. RESULTS: Relative to participants who received the lowest intensity therapy, those who received higher-intensity therapy had a decreased risk of 30-day readmission. The risk was lowest for the highest-intensity group (hazard ratio=0.86; 95% confidence interval=0.79, 0.93). Individuals who received no therapy were at an increased risk of hospital readmission relative to those who received low-intensity therapy (hazard ratio=1.30; 95% confidence interval=1.22, 1.40). The findings were similar, but with smaller effects, for 90-day readmission. Furthermore, patients who received higher-intensity therapy had more comorbidities and greater illness severity relative to those who received lower-intensity therapy. LIMITATIONS: The results of the study are limited in scope and generalizability. Also, the study may not have adequately accounted for all potentially important covariates. CONCLUSIONS: Receipt of and intensity of rehabilitation therapy in the acute care of stroke is associated with a decreased risk of hospital readmission.

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