Robert W. Teasell, MD, FRCPC, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Lawson Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
Jeffrey W. Jutai, PhD, Cpsych, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Lawson Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
Stroke rehabilitation is best provided by a specialized interdisciplinary team, and the benefits of such a program in improving functional outcomes and reducing disability have been well established in multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs). There is also evidence that the intensity of therapy is important. The risk of not providing stroke rehabilitation, established in one RCT, is a marked increase in death and dependency for moderate to severe stroke patients. Rehabilitation is best provided early to take advantage of post-stroke brain plasticity. Increasing age has an impact on stroke recovery, and very old patients respond better to a slower, less intensive approach to rehabilitation. Insufficient attention is often given to the importance of assistive devices.
Key words: stroke rehabilitation, interdisciplinary stroke rehabilitation unit, older adult, assistive devices.