The aim of this study was to compare outcomes for functional independence, activities of daily living participation and balance achieved by moderate and severe stroke survivors receiving an early supported discharge model of care with those receiving standard treatment.
A quasi-experimental cohort method was utilised, with a control group of convenience. Forty-one patients ( n = 28 early supported discharge group, n = 13 control group) who were medically stable post stroke, safe for discharge home, able to be treated in the home environment and requiring intensive rehabilitation from at least two disciplines participated.
There was no significant difference in outcomes between early supported discharge and control groups for functional independence, activities of daily living participation or balance from baseline to 4 weeks, or 4 weeks to 8 weeks. However, patients receiving early supported discharge made further improvements across the study period, while those receiving standard care made limited improvement between 4 weeks and 8 weeks. All minimal clinically important differences on outcome measures were identified between baseline and 4 weeks.
Moderate and severe stroke survivors can achieve comparable outcomes when receiving early supported discharge or standard treatment. Early supported discharge models of care may also enhance ongoing improvement during the early phases of stroke recovery.