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Occupational Therapy Improves Independence in Stroke Survivors

Occupational therapy significantly reduces the risk of deterioration after stroke, according to a new systematic review. //

Patients who participated in after-stroke rehabilitative therapy proved better able to perform self-care tasks and were more likely to maintain these abilities, compared to patients who did not undergo occupational therapy, the researchers found.

"The most important finding is that occupational therapy actually works," said Lynn Legg, lead author of the review. "Very few interventions have had such an impact."

Legg, project manager of the Stroke Therapy Evaluation Programme at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland, and colleagues examined nine randomized controlled trials comprising 1,258 participants. The studies took place in the United Kingdom, Canada and Hong Kong.

Based on the results, the authors calculated that for every 1,000 patients treated with occupational therapy, 97 patients avoid death, dependent care or deteriorating health.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing trials on a topic.

Rehabilitation services, such as physical and occupational therapy, aim to reduce disability and dependence by helping stroke survivors relearn skills lost due to stroke-related brain damage. Occupational therapists teach patients to perform everyday activities, such as making meals and getting in and out of bed on their own. Occupational therapists may also help stroke patients relearn tasks associated with work, leisure and family activities.

The studies selected for this review evaluated occupational therapy programs aimed at improving personal care skills. Patients who received occu
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