Background: Nutrition affects rehabilitation through its influence on physical and mental functioning, although little attention has been paid to effects on rehabilitation outcomes. The present study aimed to describe nutritional status and food consumption in stroke patients within 2 weeks of hospital admission and before discharge, as well as to investigate the effects of nutritional and dietary factors on rehabilitation outcomes.
Methods: One hundred patients from a consecutive cohort admitted to a metropolitan hospital with acute stroke were recruited and assessed by a single researcher, with 38 reassessed at discharge. Nutritional status was assessed using Mini-Nutritional Assessment and anthropometric indices and dietary intake was assessed by 1-day weighed dietary records. Rehabilitation outcomes were changes in Barthel index scores and the rehabilitation efficiency index.
Results: Few (n = 9; 10%) consumed ≥100% of the estimated average requirement (EAR) for energy within 2 weeks of admission and 13 (33%) had energy intakes <50% of EAR before discharge. A small but increasing proportion (7% at admission, 13% at discharge) were identified as being malnourished across the inpatient stay. Younger age, lower Barthel index and a higher energy intake in the early stages of admission predicted the extent and rate of restoration of functional abilities by discharge (F = 7.503, P = 0.001; F = 14.558, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Given a general finding of nutritional deterioration identified for these patients, as well as the identification of energy intake as a modifiable influence on the extent and rate of recovery, there is clearly scope for the multidisciplinary development of nutritional support for stroke patients to improve rehabilitation outcomes.