Accuracy of physical and occupational therapists' early predictions of recovery after severe middle cerebral artery stroke

Gert Kwakkel, Gabriella M. Van Dijk, Robert C. Wagenaar

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Introduction: The ability of physical therapists (PTs) and occupational therapists (OTs) to predict level of outcome accurately was investigated prospectively in 91 severely disabled stroke patients with a first-ever middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke. Methods: Within the second and fifth week after stroke onset, 364 predictions were made by 59 PTs and 47 OTs about walking ability, dexterity, activities of daily living (ADL), need for additional care in ADL, time required to achieve independent walking ability and maximal level of ADL, and destination of discharge at six months after stroke. The functional recovery patterns of stroke patients were assessed by an independent observer. The accuracy of the therapists' predictions was compared with that of derived prediction models. In addition, the influence of characteristics of patients and therapists on the accuracy of the predictions was investigated. Results: Compared to observed outcomes at six months after stroke, therapists' lowest accuracies of prediction were found for the moment at which maximal ADL score was achieved (r(s) = 0.07; p = NS), and highest accuracy was for level of dexterity of the hemiplegic arm (r(s) = 0.78; p < 0.01). Therapists' predictions of functional outcome at six months tended to be too pessimistic. No significant differences were observed for dexterity and walking ability when the predictions by PTs and OTs were compared with those of regression models, whereas significant differences were found for the accuracies of OTs' and PTs' first prediction of destination of discharge and second predictions of outcome in ADL and need for additional care in ADL. No significant differences were found between the accuracy of PTs' and OTs' predictions, and their ability to predict functional outcome was not significantly influenced by the characteristics of patient and therapists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-41
Number of pages14
JournalClinical rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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