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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Sep 8;(9):CD006430. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006430.pub2.

Occupational therapy for cognitive impairment in stroke patients.

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  • 1Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 4072.



Cognitive impairment is a frequent consequence of stroke and can impact on a person's ability to perform everyday activities. There are a number of different intervention strategies that occupational therapists may use when working with people who have cognitive impairment post-stroke.


To determine whether occupational therapy improves functional performance of basic activities of daily living (ADL) and specific cognitive abilities in people who have cognitive impairment following a stroke.


We searched the Cochrane Stroke Group Trials Register (last searched May 2009), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library Issue 1, 2009), MEDLINE (1966 to April 2009), EMBASE (1980 to April 2009), CINAHL (1982 to April 2009), PsycINFO (1840 to April 2009), PsycBITE, OTseeker and Dissertation Abstracts (the latest three were searched up to April 2009). In an effort to identify further published, unpublished, and ongoing trials, we also tracked relevant references through the cited reference search in Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), reviewed the reference lists of relevant studies and reviews, handsearched relevant occupational therapy journals, and contacted key researchers in the area.


Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials that evaluated an intervention focused on providing cognitive retraining to adults with clinically defined stroke and confirmed cognitive impairment. The intervention needed either to be provided by an occupational therapist or given under the supervision of an occupational therapist.


Two review authors independently examined the abstracts that might meet the inclusion criteria, assessed the quality and extracted data. We have presented results using mean differences.


We included one trial with 33 participants in this review. We found no difference between groups for the two relevant outcomes that were measured: improvement in time judgement skills and improvement in basic ADLs on the Barthel Index.


The effectiveness of occupational therapy for cognitive impairment post-stroke remains unclear. The potential benefits of cognitive retraining delivered as part of occupational therapy on improving basic daily activity function or specific cognitive abilities, or both, of people who have had a stroke cannot be supported or refuted by the evidence included in this review. More research is required.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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