Published: 2009-08-19 11:42:02
Author: Todd Neale | MedPage Today | July 24, 2009
LITTLE FALLS, N.J., July 24 -- A rehabilitation program for impaired attention was successful in patients who had suffered a stroke, a randomized trial showed.
Compared with patients who received standard post-stroke care, those who underwent attention process training had significantly greater gains on a measure of attention at six months (P=0.0004), according to Suzanne Barker-Collo, PhD, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues.
The improvements were not associated with better clinical outcomes on measures of quality of life and disability, the researchers reported online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
But impaired attention is known to affect cognitive productivity and lead to poorer outcomes. In addition, attention is important in re-learning motor skills, the researchers said.
Thus, "early identification and rehabilitation of attention should be part of post-stroke rehabilitation," they said, a position endorsed by the American Heart Association in 2005 practice guidelines.
"Although the results are encouraging," they continued, "further studies are required with larger samples and longer follow-up to identify characteristics of those most likely to benefit from attention process training and to ascertain the optimal delay before treatment."
Impaired attention is a common post-stroke neuropsychological change, occurring in 46% to 92% of stroke survivors, the researchers said.
Attention process training, which has been evaluated in patients with traumatic brain injury, helps patients maintain attention, shift attention from one task to another, do more than one task at a time, and filter out extraneous information through a series of tasks.