JOURNAL ARTICLE

The prevalence of joint contractures, pressure sores, painful shoulder, other pain, falls, and depression in the year after a severely disabling stroke

Catherine Sackley, Nicola Brittle, Smitaa Patel, Julie Ellins, Martin Scott, Cristine Wright, Michael E Dewey
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2008, 39 (12): 3329-34
18787199

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Complications after stroke have been shown to impede rehabilitation, lead to poor functional outcome, and increase cost of care. This inception cohort study sought to investigate the prevalence of immobility-related complications during the first year after severely disabling stroke in relation to functional independence and place of residence.

METHODS: Over a 7-month period, 600 stroke survivors were identified in the hospital through the Nottingham Stroke Register. Those who had a Barthel Index score <or=10 3 months poststroke and did not have a primary diagnosis of dementia were eligible to participate in the study. Assessments of complications were carried out at 3, 6, and 12 months poststroke.

RESULTS: Complications were recorded for 122 stroke survivors (mean age, 76 years; 57% male). Sixty-three (52%) had significant language impairment and of the remaining 59 who were able to complete an assessment of cognitive function, 10 (8%) were cognitively impaired. The numbers of reported complications over 12 months, in rank order, were falls, 89 (73%); contracture, 73 (60%); pain, 67 (55%); shoulder pain, 64 (52%); depression, 61 (50%); and pressure sores, 26 (22%). A negative correlation was found between Barthel Index score and the number of complications experienced (low scores on the Barthel Index correlate with a high number of complications). The highest relative percentages of complications were experienced by patients who were living in a nursing home at the time of their last completed assessment.

CONCLUSIONS: Immobility-related complications are very common in the first year after a severely disabling stroke. Patients who are more functionally dependent in self-care are likely to experience a greater number of complications than those who are less dependent. Trials of techniques to limit and prevent complication are required.

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