Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of disability in the elderly. Although the incidence of stroke is decreasing, its prevalence in the population is increasing because of enhanced survival and a growing elderly population. Estimating and understanding disability following stroke should be a high priority in health care. To better characterize stroke-related disability, physical therapists should use a conceptual model of disablement and measure functions across all domains of disablement (impairments, functional limitations, disability, and quality of life). Therapists need to use the measurements obtained and knowledge of stroke recovery and of the variables that influence this recovery to stage patients for prediction of outcomes. Using predicted outcomes to stage patients may result in effective treatment plans and more accurate targeting of intensive rehabilitation to those patients most likely to benefit.
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