Research Article

How much physical therapy for patients with stroke?

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: (Published 20 May 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:1307
  1. J C Brocklehurst,
  2. K Andrews,
  3. B Richards,
  4. P J Laycock


    The use of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for patients with stroke was investigated, and the three treatments were compared. Out of 135 patients with stroke surviving at two weeks, 107 received physiotherapy, but only 35 received occupational therapy and 19 speech therapy. Those who received most physiotherapy were the most severely disabled and had the worst prognosis, and, although almost no recovery occurred after six months, 30 patients continued with treatment beyond this time. Stiff and painful shoulders were present in 21 of the patients by two weeks and had developed in a further 37 by one year. Physiotherapy did not prevent this. The objectives of physiotherapy for patients with stroke need careful definition, with emphasis on treatment in the early months. Alternative treatment, possibly carried out by volunteers or more simply trained personnel, merits further consideration.