Predicting activities after stroke: what is clinically relevant?


  • G. Kwakkel,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine, Rehabilitation Centre ‘De Hoogstraat’, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, UMC, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    • Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center (VUmc), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • B. J. Kollen

    1. Department of General Practice, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

Correspondence: Gert Kwakkel, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, VU University Medical Centre, de Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam. The Netherlands.



Knowledge about factors that determine the final outcome after stroke is important for early stroke management, rehabilitation goals, and discharge planning. This narrative review provides an overview of current knowledge about the prediction of activities after stroke. We reviewed the pattern of stroke recovery for functions and activities, the impact of spontaneous recovery on activities, and the measurement of improvement in general. We explored the activities profiles during the chronic phase and predictors for activities of daily living independence after stroke, and finally, we discussed where to from here? Mathematical regularities explain the nonlinear patterns of recovery, making the outcome of activities of daily living highly predictable. Initial severity of disability and extent of improvement observed within the first weeks poststroke are important indicators of the outcome at six-months. The sequence of progress in activities is almost fixed in time. Studies showed that most motor recovery is almost completed within 10 weeks poststroke. On average, stroke recovery plateaus three- to six-months after onset. Strong evidence was found that age and scores on scales assessing severity of neurological deficits in the early poststroke phase are strongly associated with the final basic activities of daily living outcome after three-months poststroke. The validated prediction models using simple algorithms, such as National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale or Barthel Index, need to be implemented in rehabilitation services and used for stratifying stroke patients in trials. Future studies should investigate the accuracy of dynamic models that includes time poststroke to optimize the application of prediction rules in individuals with stroke.