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Trends in Inpatient Rehabilitation Stroke Outcomes Before and After Advent of the Prospective Payment System: A Systematic Review

Rinere O'Brien, Suzanne PT, NCS, MS

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: March 2010 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 - pp 17-23
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e3181cfd3ac

Background and Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review was to examine quality care indicators for inpatient stroke rehabilitation, trends for length of stay (LOS), functional outcomes, and discharge destination. In order to examine the influence of the prospective payment system (PPS), which was instituted in 2002, particular attention was paid to the pre-PPS to post-PPS period. This is the first review of literature to examine the quality of stroke care provided in inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States.

Methods: A search of Ovid Medline and Ovid Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health databases was performed for articles published between 1990 and 2007. Search terms included treatment outcome, outcome assessment, activities of daily living, exercise, rehabilitation, cerebrovascular accident, LOS, and rehabilitation centers.

Results: Twelve articles met the criteria for review. A trend for shorter LOS was evident in the literature up until the time of implementation of PPS. An insufficient amount of literature was available to confirm whether this trend continued after the implantation of PPS. The most recent data indicated that average LOS in inpatient rehabilitation facilities for stroke was <20 days. Functional Independence Measure (FIM) discharge scores remained stable through the 1990s. After the implementation of PPS, discharge FIM scores may be decreasing, but revisions to the FIM tool may confound interpretation of post-PPS findings. Data for discharge to noninstitutional settings after stroke rehabilitation were inconclusive pre-PPS. There may be indications that discharges to institutional settings are increasing post-PPS.

Conclusions: The impact of PPS on quality care indicators for inpatient stroke rehabilitation, trends for LOS, and trends for functional outcomes are insufficiently documented in the medical literature. Further research is needed to understand the influence of LOS on functional outcomes and discharge destination. More information is needed on post-PPS outcomes to substantiate the benefit of inpatient rehabilitation for individuals with stroke.

University of Rochester Medical Center, School of Nursing, Rochester, New York.

Address correspondence to: Suzanne Rinere O'Brien, E-mail:

© 2010 Neurology Section, APTA