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Stroke. 1993 Oct;24(10):1462-7.

Improving stroke rehabilitation. A controlled study.

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  • 1Orpington Stroke Unit, Bromley Hospitals, UK.



Assessment of stroke rehabilitation is complicated by the heterogeneity of patients and settings and by difficulties in disentangling effects of organization from effects of types and amounts of treatment input.


A prospective controlled study was undertaken in 245 stroke patients stratified into three groups according to prognosis and managed on a stroke rehabilitation unit (n = 124) or general medical wards (n = 121). Patients were randomly allocated to either setting 2 weeks after stroke and were comparable for baseline characteristics.


Patients on general medical wards received more physiotherapy on average (16.2 +/- 7.2 versus 14.3 +/- 3.2 hours; P < .05) but similar amounts of occupational therapy (9.3 +/- 2.8 versus 9.5 +/- 3.2 hours) compared with stroke unit patients. More time was spent on individual rehabilitation on the stroke unit compared with general wards (P < .001). Functional abilities at discharge, destination of discharge, and length of hospital stay in patients with good prognosis were comparable in both settings. Patients with poor prognosis managed on general wards showed higher mortality (P < .05) and longer hospital stay (123.2 +/- 48.2 versus 52.3 +/- 19.8 days; P < .001), but functional abilities at discharge in survivors were comparable with those of stroke unit patients. Patients with intermediate prognosis had significantly better outcome on the stroke unit, with more patients being discharged home (75% versus 52%; P < .001), shorter average length of hospital stay (48.7 +/- 17.2 versus 104.6 +/- 28.6 days; P < .001), and better functional abilities at discharge (P < .05).


Stroke units improve outcome and reduce hospital stay without increasing therapy time. Their effectiveness may be enhanced by patient selection.

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