Determining the process of rehabilitation and the outcomes of patients at a specialised in-patient centre in the Western Cape
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The World Health Organisation estimates that the majority of the disabled population resides in the developing world, but most of the research on outcomes of patients originates from the developed world. In the light of the differences in healthcare structures and function, especially rehabilitation between settings and countries, it is imperative to have an understanding of the functioning of patients at discharge with the objective of measuring the level at which outcomes are met. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the process of rehabilitation and the outcome of patients following in-patient rehabilitation at a facility in the Western Cape. A quantitative research design was employed to address the objectives. Self-administered questionnaires were developed to collate information pertaining to the demographic-, socioeconomic- and medical profile of patients and data extraction sheets collected information relating to the process of rehabilitation and the impairment status of patients on admission. With regards to activity and participation, a longitudinal study design was used, which utilised standardised outcomes measures. The sample consisted of all patients with stroke and spinal cord injury admitted within a three-month period, and all ethical principles relating to research on human subjects, as stipulated in the Helsinki Declaration were adhered to during data collection, with ethical clearance obtained from relevant authorities. The SAS and the Microsoft Excel Package 2007 were used to analyse the quantitative data elements. Descriptive statistics using frequencies, percentages, ranges, means, and standard deviations and inferential statistics using chi-square, student T-tests and correlation tests, for determining the predictors of functional outcome, were calculated. There were 175 patients, whereof 82 were patients with stroke and 93 with spinal cord injury, with 143 (76 presenting with spinal cord injury and 67 with stroke) meeting the inclusion criteria on admission. The mean age of those with spinal cord injury and stroke was 34.14 and 52.95 years. Most of the patients with spinal cord injuries were single (73.68%), whereas the majority (53.73%) of patients with strokes were married at the time of injury. All patients were managed by the doctor and the nurse, with most of the patients receiving physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social assistance from the social worker. With regards to recreational activities, 46.87% of patients with spinal cord injury and 39.39% of those with stroke attended the learn to swim programme, and 29.68% of patients with spinal cord injury attended the wheelchair basketball sessions. The mean length of hospital stay for patients with spinal cord injury and stroke was 73.11 and 51. 62 days, with most of the spinal cord injured patients (80.26%) and stroke patients (82.08%) discharged home without follow-up rehabilitation. The most prevalent impairments on admission of the spinal cord injury cohort were muscle weakness (75.0%), bladder incontinence (71.1%) and reduced sensation (69.7%), whereas patients with stroke presented mostly with muscle paralysis (80.6%), abnormal tone (76.1%) and aphasia (50.8%). Functional limitations experienced by the participants included, mobility, stair climbing and transfers. The participants experienced participation restrictions in the following domains, leisure activities and employment. A clinical significant improvement was noted in execution of functional task of patients with spinal cord injury (p< 0.0001) and stroke (p< 0.0001) between admission and discharge. A significant statistical change was also detected for the participation elements of both stroke and spinal cord injury cohorts. Functional ability on admission was found to be a predictor of functional outcome of the stroke diagnostic group at discharge, whereas the multiple redictor model of functional outcome of the spinal cord injured cohort at discharge was significant with remaining variables of functional outcome score on admission (p<0.0001) and bladder -and bowel impairment(s) (p=0.0247). The study findings suggest that despite the significant change in activity and participation, most of the patients were discharged home without further follow-up for rehabilitation, irrespective of the activity limitations and participation restrictions still experienced at the time of discharge. The latter finding questions the duration of the length of hospital stay, which does not allow patients to be independent in all meaningful activities and participatory actions and roles by the end of inpatient rehabilitation. The study findings could assist authorities to adapt the existing rehabilitation programme and referral process .