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Stroke is a major cause of lasting disability worldwide. Virtual reality (VR) training has been introduced as a means of increasing the effectiveness of rehabilitation by providing large doses of task-related training with many repetitions and different modes of feedback. As VR is increasingly used in neurorehabilitation, cost considerations are important.
A cost-analysis was conducted based on the Virtual Reality for Upper Extremity in Subacute stroke (VIRTUES) trial, a recent international randomized controlled observer-blind multicenter trial. Average therapist time required per therapy session may differ between VR and conventional training (CT), leading to potential cost savings due to a therapist being able to supervise more than one patient at a time. Exploratory cost analyses are presented to explore such assumptions.
Based on our calculations, VR incurs extra costs as compared with CT when the same amount of therapist contact is provided, as was the case in VIRTUES. However, the exploratory analyses demonstrated that these costs may be rapidly counterbalanced when time for therapist supervision can be reduced.
Extra costs for VR can be outweighed by reduced therapist time and decreasing VR system costs in the nearer future, and not least by increased patient motivation.
A 62-year-old male presented to hospital with acute aphasia. His past medical history was significant for a previous left middle cerebral artery stroke, from which he fully recovered, hypertension, dyslipidemia, coronary artery disease, one episode of atrial fibrillation postoperatively, and thalidomide exposure in utero. Although initially he was thought to be aphasic, on further examination, he demonstrated significant abulia. His level of consciousness was normal, and neurological examination was otherwise unremarkable. A CT angiogram of the head and neck was performed. The patient was not a candidate for acute therapy, as he had established stroke on imaging, and the time of onset was unclear.
Stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA) remain leading causes of mortality and morbidity globally. Although mortality rates have been in decline, the number of people affected by stroke has risen. These patients have a range of long-term needs and often present to primary care. Furthermore, many of these patients have multimorbidities which increase the complexity of their healthcare. Long-term impacts from stroke/TIA along with care needs for other morbidities can be challenging to address because care can involve different healthcare professionals, both specialist and generalist. In the ideal model of care, such professionals would work collaboratively to provide care. Despite the commonality of multimorbidity in stroke/TIA, gaps in the literature remain, particularly limited knowledge of pairings or clusters of comorbid conditions and the extent to which these are interrelated. Moreover, integrated care practices are less well understood and remain variable in practice. This article argues that it is important to understand (through research) patterns of multimorbidity, including number, common clusters and types of comorbidities, and current interprofessional practice to inform future directions to improve long-term care.
Prehospital identification of large vessel occlusion (LVO) stroke may expedite treatment by direct transport to comprehensive stroke centers (CSCs) with endovascular capabilities. The Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS) is commonly used for prehospital stroke detection. We aimed to assess whether (1) a high CPSS score can identify LVO and (2) an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) redirection protocol based on high CPSS accelerated endovascular treatment (EVT).
A retrospective comparison of patients transported by EMSs for suspected stroke to a high-volume CSC over a 16-month period, before and after implementation of an EMS redirection protocol based on high CPSS score (3/3). Charts were reviewed to determine the presence of LVO. Time to EVT and 3-month outcomes were compared before and after implementation.
A prehospital CPSS 3/3 score was found in 223 (59%) patients, demonstrating positive and negative predictive values for LVO of 29% and 94%, respectively. CPSS-based EMS redirection increased the proportion of EVT performed after direct transport to CSC [before: 21 (36%), after: 45 (63%), p < 0.01] and decreased median first door-to-groin puncture time by 28 minutes [109 (interquartile range (IQR) 64–116) versus 81 (IQR 56–130), p = 0.03]. At 3 months, the proportion of patients achieving functional independence (modified Rankin score 0–2) went from 20/57 (35%) to 29/68 (43%) (p = 0.39) following implementation.
CPSS-based EMS redirection accelerated identification of LVO strokes in the out-of-hospital setting and decreased time to EVT. Nevertheless, this protocol was also associated with high rates of non-LVO stroke. Impact on clinical outcomes should be evaluated in a larger cohort.
The association between intake of different dairy products and the risk of stroke remains unclear. We therefore investigated substitutions between dairy product subgroups and risk of stroke. We included 36 886 Dutch men and women. Information about dairy product intake was collected through a FFQ. Dairy products were grouped as low-fat milk, whole-fat milk, buttermilk, low-fat yogurt, whole-fat yogurt, cheese and butter. Incident stroke cases were identified in national registers. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to calculate associations for substitutions between dairy products with the rate of stroke. During a median follow-up of 15·2 years we identified 884 stroke cases (503 ischaemic and 244 haemorrhagic). Median intake of total dairy products was four servings/d. Low-fat yogurt substituted for whole-fat yogurt was associated with a higher rate of ischaemic stroke (hazard ratio (HR) = 2·58 (95 % CI 1·11, 5·97)/serving per d). Whole-fat yogurt as a substitution for any other subgroup was associated with a lower rate of ischaemic stroke (HR between 0·33 and 0·36/serving per d). We did not observe any associations for haemorrhagic stroke. In conclusion, whole-fat yogurt as a substitution for low-fat yogurt, cheese, butter, buttermilk or milk, regardless of fat content, was associated with a lower rate of ischaemic stroke.
To determine accessibility of the primary healthcare system for patients with stroke recently discharged from hospital.
This project mapped retrospective patient location data and the location of primary healthcare services in the same region. Patient location data were from all patients with stroke (N = 1595: January 2011–January 2017) discharged from one metropolitan hospital to the local Primary Health Network. Geographic Information System technology was used to map the patient discharge locations and the spatial distribution of primary healthcare services (general practitioner, pharmacy, allied health) across the region. Road network data were used to measure the level of access from each patient’s discharge location to the services.
Access to primary healthcare services was variable. Areas with larger proportions of patients with stroke did not necessarily have good service access. With an increase in travel time, the number of services accessible to patients also increased. However, the spatial variation of access to services remained largely unchanged.
Access to primary healthcare services for patients with stroke varies spatially, with a trend towards relatively low levels of accessibility for many patients. There is an urgent need for future planning to consider geographical access to primary healthcare services for patients with stroke.
Noninvasive brain stimulation can modulate neural processing within the motor cortex and thereby might be beneficial in the rehabilitation of hemispatial neglect after stroke.
We review the pertinent literature regarding the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation in order to facilitate recovery of hemispatial neglect after stroke.
Twenty controlled trials (including 443 stroke patients) matched our inclusion criteria. Methodology and results of each study are presented in a comparative approach. Current data seem to indicate a better efficiency of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, compared to tDCS to ameliorate hemispatial neglect after stroke.
Noninvasive brain stimulation has the potential to facilitate recovery of hemispatial neglect after stroke, but until today, there are not enough data to claim its routine use.
Introduction: Individualizing risk for stroke following a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a topic of intense research, as existing scores are context-dependent or have not been well validated. The Canadian TIA Score stratifies risk of subsequent stroke into low, moderate and high risk. Our objective was to prospectively validate the Canadian TIA Score in a new cohort of emergency department (ED) patients. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study in 14 Canadian EDs over 4 years. We enrolled consecutive adult patients with an ED visit for TIA or nondisabling stroke. Treating physicians recorded standardized clinical variables onto data collection forms. Given the ability of prompt emergency carotid endarterectomy (CEA) to prevent stroke (NNT = 3) in high risk patients, our primary outcome was the composite of subsequent stroke or CEA ≤7 days. We conducted telephone follow-up using the validated Questionnaire for Verifying Stroke Free Status at 7 and 90 days. Outcomes were adjudicated by panels of 3 local stroke experts, blinded to the index ED data collection form. Based on prior work, we estimated a sample size of 5,004 patients including 93 subsequent strokes, would yield 95% confidence bands of +/− 10% for sensitivity and likelihood ratio (LR). Our analyses assessed interval LRs (iLR) with 95% CIs. Results: We prospectively enrolled 7,569 patients with mean 68.4 +/−14.7 years and 52.4% female, of whom 107 (1.4%) had a subsequent stroke and 74 (1.0%) CEA ≤7 days (total outcomes = 181). We enrolled 81.2% of eligible patients; missed patients were similar to enrolled. The Canadian TIA Score stratified the stroke/CEA ≤7days risk as: Low (probability <0.2%, iLR 0.20 [95%CI 0.091-0.44]; Moderate (probability 1.3%, iLR 0.79 [0.68-0.92]; High (probability 2.6%, iLR 2.2 [1.9-2.6]. Sensitivity analysis for just stroke ≤7 days yielded similar results: Low iLR 0.17 [95%CI 0.056-0.52], Medium iLR 0.89 [0.75-1.1], High iLR 2.0 [1.6-2.4]. Conclusion: The Canadian TIA Score accurately identifies TIA patients risk for stroke/CEA ≤7 days. Patients classified as low risk can be safely discharged following a careful ED assessment with elective follow-up. Patients at moderate risk can undergo additional testing in the ED, have antithrombotic therapy optimized, and be offered early stroke specialist follow-up. Patients at high risk should in most cases be fully investigated and managed ideally in consultation with a stroke specialist during their index ED visit.
Stroke is a significant underlying cause of epilepsy. Seizures due to ischemic stroke (IS) are generally categorized into early seizures (ESs) and late seizures (LSs). Seizures in thrombolysis situations may raise the possibility of other etiology than IS.
We overtook a systematic review focusing on the pathogenesis, prevalence, risk factors, detection, management, and clinical outcome of ESs in IS and in stroke/thrombolysis situations. We also collected articles focusing on the association of recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator (rt-PA) treatment and epileptic seizures.
We have identified 37 studies with 36,775 participants. ES rate was 3.8% overall in patients with IS with geographical differences. Cortical involvement, severe stroke, hemorrhagic transformation, age (<65 years), large lesion, and atrial fibrillation were the most important risk factors. Sixty-one percent of ESs were partial and 39% were general. Status epilepticus (SE) occurred in 16.3%. 73.6% had an onset within 24 h and 40% may present at the onset of stroke syndrome. Based on EEG findings seizure-like activity could be detected only in approximately 18% of ES patients. MRI diffusion-weighted imaging and multimodal brain imaging may help in the differentiation of ischemia vs. seizure. There are no specific recommendations with regard to the treatment of ES.
ESs are rare complications of acute stroke with substantial burden. A significant proportion can be presented at the onset of stroke requiring an extensive diagnostic workup.
After five positive randomized controlled trials showed benefit of mechanical thrombectomy in the management of acute ischemic stroke with emergent large-vessel occlusion, a multi-society meeting was organized during the 17th Congress of the World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology in October 2017 in Budapest, Hungary. This multi-society meeting was dedicated to establish standards of practice in acute ischemic stroke intervention aiming for a consensus on the minimum requirements for centers providing such treatment. In an ideal situation, all patients would be treated at a center offering a full spectrum of neuroendovascular care (a level 1 center). However, for geographical reasons, some patients are unable to reach such a center in a reasonable period of time. With this in mind, the group paid special attention to define recommendations on the prerequisites of organizing stroke centers providing medical thrombectomy for acute ischemic stroke, but not for other neurovascular diseases (level 2 centers). Finally, some centers will have a stroke unit and offer intravenous thrombolysis, but not any endovascular stroke therapy (level 3 centers). Together, these level 1, 2, and 3 centers form a complete stroke system of care. The multi-society group provides recommendations and a framework for the development of medical thrombectomy services worldwide.
Objective: Few studies have investigated the assessment and functional impact of egocentric and allocentric neglect among stroke patients. This pilot study aimed to determine (1) whether allocentric and egocentric neglect could be dissociated among a sample of stroke patients using eye tracking; (2) the specific patterns of attention associated with each subtype; and (3) the nature of the relationship between neglect subtype and functional outcome. Method: Twenty acute stroke patients were administered neuropsychological assessment batteries, a pencil-and-paper Apples Test to measure neglect subtype, and an adaptation of the Apples Test with an eye tracking measure. To test clinical discriminability, twenty age- and education-matched control participants were administered the eye tracking measure of neglect. Results: The eye tracking measure identified a greater number of individuals as having egocentric and/or allocentric neglect than the pencil-and-paper Apples Test. Classification of neglect subtype based on eye tracking performance was a significant predictor of functional outcome beyond that accounted for by the neuropsychological test performance and Apples Test neglect classification. Preliminary evidence suggests that patients with no neglect symptoms had superior functional outcomes compared with patients with neglect. Patients with combined egocentric and allocentric neglect had poorer functional outcomes than those with either subtype. Functional outcomes of patients with either allocentric or egocentric neglect did not differ significantly. The applications of our findings, to improve neglect detection, are discussed. Conclusion: Results highlight the potential clinical utility of eye tracking for the assessment and identification of neglect subtype among stroke patients to predict functional outcomes. (JINS, 2019, 25, 479–489)
Objective: Post-stroke cognitive impairment is common, but mechanisms and risk factors are poorly understood. Frailty may be an important risk factor for cognitive impairment after stroke. We investigated the association between pre-stroke frailty and acute post-stoke cognition. Methods: We studied consecutively admitted acute stroke patients in a single urban teaching hospital during three recruitment waves between May 2016 and December 2017. Cognition was assessed using the Mini-Montreal Cognitive Assessment (min=0; max=12). A Frailty Index was used to generate frailty scores for each patient (min=0; max=100). Clinical and demographic information were collected, including pre-stroke cognition, delirium, and stroke-severity. We conducted univariate and multiple-linear regression analyses with covariates forced in (covariates included were: age, sex, stroke severity, stroke-type, pre-stroke cognitive impairment, delirium, previous stroke/transient ischemic attack) to investigate the association between pre-stroke frailty and post-stroke cognition. Results: Complete data were available for 154 stroke patients. Mean age was 68 years (SD=11; range=32–97); 93 (60%) were male. Median mini-Montreal Cognitive Assessment score was 8 (IQR=4–12). Mean Frailty Index score was 18 (SD=11). Pre-stroke cognitive impairment was apparent in 13/154 (8%) patients. Pre-stroke frailty was significantly associated with lower post-stroke cognition (Standardized-Beta=−0.40; p<0.001) and this association was independent of covariates (Unstandardized-Beta=−0.05; p=0.005). Additional significant variables in the multiple regression model were age (Unstandardized-Beta=−0.05; p=0.002), delirium (Unstandardized-Beta=−2.81; p<0.001), pre-stroke cognitive impairment (Unstandardized-Beta=−2.28; p=0.001), and stroke-severity (Unstandardized-Beta=−0.20; p<0.001). Conclusions: Pre-stroke frailty may be a moderator of post-stroke cognition, independent of other well-established post-stroke cognitive impairment risk factors. (JINS, 2019, 25, 501–506)
Sophisticated medical technologies can prolong a stroke patient’s life but not always their quality of life (QoL) due to poor functional outcomes. Social support can theoretically assist a patient’s adaptation to life after stroke and improve their QoL, but existing findings are inconclusive. This inconclusiveness is especially found in large cities where family and social bonding can be scarce. We conducted a hospital-based, cross-sectional study among 358 stroke patients to identify the effects of social support and functional outcome on QoL and its domains. The study took place in Bangkok, Thailand between July and December 2016. Data were collected by personal interview using a structured questionnaire that included the Short-Form WHO Quality of Life Instrument (WHOQOL-BREF) and by review of medical records. A hierarchical linear regression method was used to analyze data. The mean age of stroke respondents was 66.0 years (SD 13.5 years), and half were male. The mean total QoL score for patients was 68.6 (SD 15.2). Hierarchical multiple regression analysis found emotional support significantly impacted QoL in every domain (ps < .05) when all included variables were controlled for. To improve the quality of life among stroke survivors, health personnel and family members should provide not only physical assistance but also psychological support.
Most endovascular innovations have been introduced into clinical care by showing good outcomes in small enthusiastic case series of selected patients. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have rarely been performed, except for acute ischemic stroke, but even then most trial designs were too explanatory to inform clinical decisions. In this article, we review 2 × 2 tables and forest plots that summarize RCT results to examine methodological issues in the design and interpretation of clinical studies. Research results can apply in practice when RCTs are all-inclusive, pragmatic trials. Common problems include the following: (i) using restrictive eligibility criteria in explanatory trials, instead of including the diversity of patients in need of care, which hampers future generalizability of results; (ii) ignoring an entire line of the 2 × 2 table and excluding patients who do not meet the proposed criteria of a diagnostic test in its evaluation (perfusion studies) which renders clinical inferences misleading; (iii) ignoring an entire column of the 2 × 2 table and comparing different patients treated using the same treatment instead of different treatments in the same patients (the “wrong axis” comparisons of prognostic studies and clinical experience) which leads to unjustified treatment decisions and actions; or (iv) combining all aforementioned problems (case series and epidemiological studies). The most efficient and reliable way to improve patient outcomes, after as well as long before research results are available, is to change the way we practice: to use care trials to guide care in the presence of uncertainty.
This longitudinal mixed-method study examined the types of help provided by caregivers to optimize participation of older adults with cognitive deficits post-stroke (care recipients), and how these types of help varied with caregiver’s burden. Twelve family caregivers of care recipients post-stroke completed a burden questionnaire and semi-structured interviews one month, three months, and six months following care recipient’s discharge home from acute care, rehabilitation, or day hospital. Care recipients completed cognitive tests and a social participation questionnaire. Types of help caregivers provided differed according to the amount of daily living support, degree of concern for care recipient’s well-being, and impact on caregivers’ social life. Interestingly, types of help fostering care recipient’s social participation, self-esteem, and abilities were unrelated to a negative impact on caregivers’ social life. Understanding how different types of help relate to caregiver burden could improve the types of help to optimize care recipients’ social participation without overburdening caregivers.