Background and objective In current clinical practice, old patients with stroke are less frequently admitted to neurorehabilitation units following acute care than younger patients based on an assumption that old age negatively impacts the benefit obtained from high-intensity neurorehabilitation. Our objective was to test this assumption empirically in a large sample of patients with stroke.
Methods Functional recovery during 4 weeks of inpatient neurorehabilitation was assessed with the Barthel Index (BI) in 422 middle-aged (<65 years), 1399 old (65–80 years) and 473 very old (>80 years) patients with stroke. Overall functional recovery, recovery patterns and the relationship between therapy intensity and recovery were statistically compared between the three age groups.
Results Overall functional recovery was statistically equivalent in middle-aged, old and very old patients (average improvement in BI total score: middle-aged: 15 points; old: 15 points; very old: 14 points). A novel item-wise logistic regression analysis (see Pedersen, Severinsen & Nielsen, 2014, Neurorehabil Neural Repair) revealed that this was true for 9 of the 10 everyday functions assessed by the BI. Furthermore, functional recovery was predicted by the amount of therapy (R=0.14; p=0.0001), and age did not moderate this relationship between therapy intensity and recovery (p=0.70).
Conclusions Old and even very old patients with stroke benefit from specialised inpatient neurorehabilitation and high amounts of therapy in the same degree as younger patients. Contrary to current clinical practice, old age should not be a criterion against admission to a neurorehabilitation unit following acute stroke treatment.
- CLINICAL NEUROLOGY
- EVIDENCE-BASED NEUROLOGY
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