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Stroke. 2008 Feb;39(2):390-6. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.107.492363. Epub 2008 Jan 3.

A very early rehabilitation trial for stroke (AVERT): phase II safety and feasibility.

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  • 1National Stroke Research Institute, Level 1, Neurosciences Building, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, 300 Waterdale Rd, Heidelberg, 3081 Victoria, Australia. J.Bernhardt@unimelb.edu.au



Very early rehabilitation, with an emphasis on mobilization, may contribute to improved outcomes after stroke. We hypothesized that a very early rehabilitation protocol would be safe and feasible.


We performed a randomized, controlled trial with blinded outcome assessment. Patients at <24 hours after stroke were recruited from 2 Melbourne metropolitan stroke units. Patients were randomly assigned to receive standard care (SC) or SC plus very early mobilization (VEM) until discharge or 14 days (whichever was sooner). The primary safety outcome was the number of deaths at 3 months. The primary feasibility outcome was a higher "dose" of mobilization achieved in VEM. Secondary safety outcomes included adverse events (including falls and early neurologic deterioration), compliance with physiologic monitoring criteria, and patient fatigue after interventions. Secondary feasibility outcomes included "contamination" of standard care.


Overall, 18% of patients screened were suitable for recruitment. Seventy-one patients were recruited and randomized, with 2 dropouts by 12 months. The majority experienced ischemic strokes (87%). The group mean+/-SD age was 74.7+/-12.5 years, and 58% (n=41) had a National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score >7. There was no significant difference in the number of deaths between groups (SC, 3 of 33; VEM, 8 of 38; P=0.20). Almost all deaths occurred in patients with severe stroke. Secondary safety outcomes were similar between groups. The intervention protocol was successfully delivered, achieving VEM dose targets (double SC, P=0.003) and faster time to first mobilization (P<0.001).


VEM of patients within 24 hours of acute stroke appears safe and feasible. Intervention efficacy and cost-effectiveness are currently being tested in a large randomized, controlled trial.

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