Research Article| Volume 31, ISSUE 1, 106132, January 2022

Cognitive Testing During Mild Acute Ischemic Stroke Predicts Long-Term Return to Work



      Many survivors of a mild ischemic stroke do not return to work or driving. Cognitive testing is commonly done to assess long-term cognitive impairment after stroke. Inpatient cognitive testing during the acute period of ischemic stroke may also be a predictor for workforce reengagement and functional outcome.

      Materials and methods

      At our comprehensive stroke center, we prospectively enrolled previously working adults < 65 years old who were diagnosed with first-ever ischemic stroke, had a prestroke modified Rankin Scale (mRS) ≤ 1 and NIHSS ≤ 3. Testing performed within 1 week of stroke included the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), Clock Drawing Test (CDT), Trail Making Tests A and B, Backward Digit Span Test, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Other data obtained included age, gender, years of education, occupation, stroke location, stroke laterality, and presence of white matter disease on imaging. Outcome measures assessed at 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months post-stroke included return to work, return to driving, and mRS. In a logistic regression analysis, we performed both univariate and multivariate analyses. Multivariate analysis was completed on variables with p-value ≤ 0.05 in the univariate analysis.


      Of 39 total stroke patients enrolled and tested (median [IQR] age 55 [46–60] years; 77.5% male; 22.5% female), 36 completed 3-month follow up, of which 58% returned to work, 78% returned to driving, and 72% had mRS of 0–1. In multivariate analysis, a single point increase in the clock drawing task score increased the odds of return to work by 3.79 (95% CI, 1.10–14.14) and return to driving by 6.74 (95% CI, 1.22–37.23) at 3 months. MOCA and HADS were both associated with mRS ≤ 1. MOCA was associated with return to work at 6 months and CDT was associated with return to work at 12 months.


      Cognitive testing with CDT and MOCA in the acute period after ischemic stroke may predict common patient goals post stroke, including return to work, driving, and independence. These tools can potentially be used for prognosis and identifying those who may benefit from further interventions.

      Key Words

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