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The Missing Measurement In Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Friday, April 15th, 2016

The missing measurement In Stroke Recovery
By Peter G Levine

Measuring progress towards stroke recovery  is essential. Progress can be slow and difficult to see unless it is specifically measured. By not measuring progress, survivors can appear to to plateauing, rather than showing the small progress that they are actually accomplishing. Survivors and caregivers want the best treatment based on benefits compared to risk and cost. Evidence-based practice demands valid outcome measurement to prove cost effectiveness.

The Missing Measurement In Stroke Recovery

After a stroke, taking measurements often is essential. Often the notion that a survivor has plateaued is less truth and more an artifact of a lack of measurement. Stroke recovery often doesn’t display itself in large, obvious changes. Typically, stroke recovery reveals itself in small incremental steps that are difficult to see if they are not specifically measured. That is why measuring for stroke progress is so essential.

Measuring stroke recovery is essential for two reasons:

1. The plateau necessitates discharge from therapies. If the plateau in the artifact of lack of adequate measurement, discharge is often premature.

2. Stroke survivors often have difficulty recognizing nuanced changes of which recovery is made. Because changes are often small, the survivor does not recognize them from day-to-day. However, if they can be shown objective measures that indicate that they are, indeed, getting better, they are more likely to buy into the rehabilitation and recovery process.

So measurement is important. The problem is that therapists are often reluctant to do outcome measurement beyond what managed care requires because therapists often lack adequate training and measuring can reduce therapist productivity.

But there is one test that is simple and quick, and it uses tools available in any clinical setting or even in the home: the ten-meter walk test.


Gait speed tells you a lot about the patient, for example:

• A decrease in gait speed suggests a decline in attention (and visa versa).
• An increase in gait speed predicts a decline in mortality (and visa versa).
• Gait speed correlates well with functional ability, future health status, the patient’s confidence in their balance, and the fear of falling.
• Gait speed predicts where discharge will take place (home, SNF, etc.).
• Gait speed predicts chance of hospitalization, an increase in medical costs, disability, and mortality.
• Gait speed predicts the need for rehabilitation.
• Gait speed can be used to determine the effectiveness of a particular rehabilitation treatment option. The faster they walk, the more effective the treatment is considered.
• Gait speed can be used as an analog for quality of gait; faster walking generally suggests higher quality of gait.

Find the complete rules of the test, here.


Whether you are a caregiver, occupational therapist or a even a stroke survivor yourself, Saebo  provides stroke survivors  young or old, access to transformative and life changing products. We pride ourselves on providing affordable, easily accessible, and cutting-edge solutions to people suffering from impaired mobility and function. We have several products to help with the stroke recovery and rehabilitation process.  From the SaeboFlex which allows clients to incorporate their hand functionally in therapy or at home, to the SaeboMAS, an unweighting device used to assist the arm during daily living tasks and exercise training, we are commitment to helping create innovative products for stroke recovery.  Check out all of our product offerings or let us help you find which product is right for you.

The SaeboMAS mini is a lightweight, zero gravity, dynamic mobile arm support that challenges & assists the weakened...