Rehabilitation in oldest-old stroke patients: A comparison within over 65 population

Chiara Zucchella, Marco Consilvio, Licia Iacoviello, Domenico Intiso, Stefano Tamburin, Roberto Casale, Michelangelo Bartolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Considering the demographic trend, characterized by a marked aging due to the increase in life expectancy and the improvement in medical care, in the next future elderly patients will represent the majority of stroke victims with a strong impact on rehabilitative services. AIM: To investigate and characterize differences in functional outcome in elderly patients after stroke. DESIGN: Observational study. SETTING: Post-acute inpatient rehabilitation. POPULATION: Subjects aged ≥65 years with acute (i.e. within 30 days from onset) ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. METHODS: At admission, all patients underwent neurological and clinical examination, functional evaluation and laboratory assessment. Comorbidities and clinical complications during hospital stay were recorded. Functional status was evaluated by means of the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) administered at admission and discharge. All patients underwent neuromotor rehabilitation, and speech therapy in case of aphasia, once a day, six days per week. RESULTS: The study enrolled 402 patients, who were stratified in three groups according to age: 145 patients in Group 1, the young-old (65-74.9 years, G1), 206 in Group 2, the middle-old (75-84.9 years, G2) and 51 in Group 3, the oldest-old (≥85 years, G3). At discharge, FIM total scores increased significantly for all the groups (P<0.001); however FIM gains, as well as the efficiency parameters derived from FIM were significantly lower in G3 when compared with G1 and G2. G3 showed a significantly higher rate of comorbidities and a higher presence of pressure sores; infections occurred mainly in G2 and G3. Hospitalization was significantly longer for G1 and G2 with respect to G3, while mortality rates were significantly higher in G2 and G3 with respect to G1. The variables that predicted functional outcome were age, previous stroke, stroke severity and functional status at admission. CONCLUSIONS: Despite advancing age seems to be associated with a reduced effectiveness of the rehabilitation process and a greater number of complications, intensive rehabilitation can produce significant functional gains for all stroke survivors, regardless of age. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Understanding the specificity of this population will offer older subjects targeted interventions and, for health systems, better allocation of resources and the development of more effective approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-155
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2019


  • 80
  • Over
  • Rehabilitation; Stroke; Aged

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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