Take home point: Functional outcomes after stroke at 5 years are equal to the outcomes at 2 months, which are both less than the outcomes at 6 months. Age and stroke severity are important predictors of these patterns.
This study across four European centers had the ambitious goal of measuring recovery 5 years after stroke. This evaluation is far beyond the usually studied 6-month mark, where it is thought that recovery plateaus. Only patients who went to rehabilitation units were included. The results show that the trajectory on multiple in-person outcome scales is upwards from admission to 2 months, further upwards to 6 months, and then decreases to the 2-month mark at 5 years (see Figure 1). As in other studies, age and stroke severity are important predictors of the variability, although gender did not make as much difference as prior studies. These results are important because they offer a view of long-term recovery for the first time, and show a pattern of deterioration after our typical 6-month time point. The mechanisms of this deterioration are unclear. The normal aging process, decreasing social engagement, and recurrent strokes are all possible. The number of patients lost to follow-up (55%) suggests that these results need to be interpreted with caution.
The full article can be found here.
Meyer, S., Verheyden, G., Brinkmann, N., & Dejaeger, E. (2015). Functional and Motor Outcome 5 Years After Stroke Is Equivalent to Outcome at 2 Months Follow-Up of the Collaborative Evaluation of Rehabilitation in Stroke Across …. Stroke. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.009421/-/DC1