Study: Medicare-covered Stroke Patients are Receiving Inconsistent Levels of Therapy

Findings surprising in light of the importance of rehab for stroke patients

Medicare-covered stroke patients receive vastly different amounts of physical and occupational therapy during hospital stays despite evidence that such care is strongly associated with positive health outcomes.

The research team at Brown University was led by Amit Kumar, who serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Brown’s School of Public Health.

The study analyzed Medicare claims data from 2010 for over 100,000 stroke patients. While some 15 percent of patients received no physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT), average stroke patients received two total hours of therapy during their hospital stay.

Kumar did add that there were patients who received up to four hours of total therapy, but this tended to correlate with longer hospital stays.

The findings, published last week in the Physical Therapy Journal,  are somewhat troubling and concerning, due to the documented importance of patients receiving therapy soon after a stroke.

“For stroke patients, rehabilitation services are one of the most important components in providing treatment after they are stabilized in the acute setting,” said Kumar, who is also an assistant professor of physical therapy at Northern Arizona University. “This is the only treatment that helps patients regain activities for daily living, such as walking or using the restroom independently. So it’s really important to start physical therapy and occupational therapy as early as possible.”

SOURCE: Medical Life Sciences

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