Postoperative rehabilitation for chronic subdural hematoma in the elderly. An observational study focusing on balance, ambulation and discharge destination

Ettore Carlisi, Lucia Feltroni, Carmine Tinelli, Mariarosaria Verlotta, Paolo Gaetani, Elena Dalla Toffola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) can have a negative impact on autonomy of the elderly. Ambulatory and functional status may remain limited despite successful surgical evacuation. AIM: To evaluate the outcome of a postoperative assisted rehabilitation program. DESIGN: Single-institution short-term observational study. SETTING: Inpatient (Neurosurgery Unit of a University Hospital). POPULATION: Thirty-five patients, aged 65 or older, who underwent burr-hole drainage for chronic subdural hematoma. METHODS: Postoperatively all participants underwent a rehabilitation program, described in details, aimed at recovering standing position and gait as soon as possible. The program involved daily 30-minute individual sessions assisted by a physiotherapist, until discharge from hospital. The Markwalder's Grading Scale was used to assess the neurological status preoperatively and at discharge. The Trunk Control Test, the Standing Balance by Bohannon Scale and the Modified Rankin Scale were used to evaluate balance and general function (primary outcome) in the immediate postoperative and at discharge. We also recorded the rate of pre-CSDH walking patients who maintained ambulation at discharge and the discharge destination (secondary outcome). RESULTS: Total scores of Markwalder's Grading Scale, Trunk Control Test, Standing Balance by Bohannon Scale and Modified Rankin Scale improved (P<0.05), indicating a global favorable outcome, especially for balance. Excluding the patients who were dependent pre-CSDH, the others maintained gait function in 74.2% of cases. Only 45.7% of the patients were discharged home, the others being divided between inpatient medical settings and rehabilitation. CONCLUSIONS: The rehabilitation program was well tolerated by the patients. Our study showed a clear improvement in trunk control and standing balance and an overall favorable outcome for neurological and ambulatory status at discharge. Despite an assisted postoperative rehabilitation program, the residual impairment in general function was the main factor that prevents us to discharge more elderly patients home rather than to assisted settings. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: The results of this descriptive study suggest that an assisted rehabilitation program may be helpful in improving short-term postoperative balance and ambulatory status (more than functional status), but further studies, with a randomized controlled design, are certainly justified to understand the efficacy of rehabilitation in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Aged
  • Hematoma, subdural, chronic
  • Neurological rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Postoperative rehabilitation for chronic subdural hematoma in the elderly. An observational study focusing on balance, ambulation and discharge destination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this