Association of Therapy Time and Cognitive Recovery in Stroke Patients in Post-Acute Rehabilitation.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Medical Directors Association








Rehabilitation; cognition; cognitive dysfunction; occupational therapy; post-acute care; stroke.


OBJECTIVES: Cognitive impairment is highly prevalent after stroke, with 77% of people having impairment in at least 2 cognitive domains. The purpose of this study is to describe the association between therapy minutes per length of stay (LOS) day and cognitive recovery in patients receiving rehabilitation services in inpatient post-acute care facilities following a stroke.

DESIGN: Secondary analyses of data collected in inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities from 2005 to 2010 for an observational cohort study.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Participants were adults aged ≥65 years with Medicare insurance and primary diagnosis of stroke (N = 100). Participants who met criteria for dementia (n = 5) were excluded from analyses. We calculated therapy minutes per LOS day for occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and all therapies combined; therapy times were dichotomized into high or low minutes per LOS day (MLD). We used an ordinary least squares regression model for cognitive outcome at discharge to control for cognitive status at admission, therapy intensity by discipline, and LOS.

RESULTS: At baseline, participants were classified as having severe (n = 11), moderate (n = 39), or mild (n = 45) cognitive impairment. Impairment groups were not significantly different on any demographic variables. The adjusted regression model showed that high occupational therapy MLD (>50 minutes per LOS day) (P = .028) was significantly associated with cognitive measure at discharge compared with low occupational therapy MLD when controlling for cognitive impairment group at baseline (P < .001). Neither high physical therapy MLD nor speech-language pathology MLD was significantly associated with cognitive outcome relative to their respective low TMLD groups.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our results show that higher-intensity occupational therapy services were associated with better cognitive outcome at discharge from inpatient rehabilitation after stroke. Findings also suggest that volume of therapy alone does not necessarily produce optimal outcomes. Both amount and type of therapy should be tailored to meet the needs of individual patients.

Peer Reviewed


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