Early supported discharge after stroke
Peter Langhorne and Lotta Widen-Holmqvist
Patients after stroke conventionally receive much of their rehabilitation in hospital. Services have been developed that offer patients an early discharge from hospital with more rehabilitation at home (early supported discharge). This paper sets out a systematic review of all randomized trials of early supported discharge services that included 12 trials (1659 patients). There was a reduced odds of death or dependency equivalent to 5 fewer adverse outcomes (95% confidence interval 1–10) for every 100 patients receiving an early supported discharge service (p = 0.04). Patients receiving early supported discharge services showed an 8 day reduction (p < 0.0001) in the length of hospital stay. The greatest benefits were seen in the trials evaluating a co-ordinated multidisciplinary early supported discharge team and with patients with mild-moderate disability. The experience of a trial from Stockholm is described in order to explore the potential mechanism of action of early supported discharge services. In conclusion, an illustrative case report is set out, indicating a typical patient pathway in an early supported discharge service.