Is communication key in stroke rehabilitation and recovery? National linked stroke data study

Publication Name

Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation


Background: Information on the characteristics or long-term outcomes of people with communication support needs post-stroke is limited. We investigated associations between communication gains in rehabilitation and long-term outcomes (quality-of-life [EuroQOL-ED-3 L], mortality) by post-stroke communication support need status. Methods: Retrospective cohort study using person-level linked data from the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry and the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (2014–2017). Communication support needs were assessed using the Functional Independence Measure™ comprehension and expression items recorded on admission indicated by scores one (total assistance) to five (standby prompting). Multivariable multilevel and Cox regression models were used to determine associations with long-term outcomes. Results: Of 8,394 patients who received in-patient rehabilitation after stroke (42% female, median age 75.6 years), two-thirds had post-stroke communication support needs. Having aphasia (odds ratio [OR] 4.34, 95% CI 3.67–5.14), being aged ≥65 years (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.08–1.36), greater stroke severity (unable to walk on admission; OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.32–1.68) and previous stroke (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.11–1.41) were associated with increased likelihoods of having communication support needs. One-point improvement in FIM™ expression was associated with reduced likelihood of self-reporting problems related to mobility (OR 0.85, 95% CI: 0.80–0.90), self-care (OR 0.79, 95% CI: 0.74–0.86) or usual activities (OR 0.84, 95% CI: 0.75–0.94) at 90–180 days. Patients with communication support needs had greater mortality rates within one-year post-stroke (adjusted hazard ratio 1.99, 95% CI: 1.65–2.39). Conclusions: Two-thirds of patients with stroke require communication support to participate in healthcare activities. Establishing communication-accessible stroke care environments is a priority.

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