Research Article| Volume 7, ISSUE 2, P113-127, March 1998

Assessment scales for the evaluation of stroke patients

  • Patrick D. Lyden
    Address reprint requests to Patrick D. Lyden, MD, University of California at San Diego, 200 W Arbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92103-8466.
    The University of California at San Diego Stroke Center, Department of Neurology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, CA, USA

    Janssen Research Foundation, Titusville, NJ, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Ludwig Hantson
    The University of California at San Diego Stroke Center, Department of Neurology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, CA, USA

    Janssen Research Foundation, Titusville, NJ, USA
    Search for articles by this author
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      The approval of tissue plasminogen activator to treat acute ischemic stroke and the continuing need to evaluate new neuroprotective drugs and thrombolytic agents in clinical trials have focused interest on the quantitative evaluation of stroke patients. Emphasizing outcomes management in clinical practice has also heightened the importance of quantitative evaluation using assessment scales. Investigators who evaluate, revise, and use assessment scales for the measurement of stroke impairment, disabilites, and handicaps face many challenges. These problems include the heterogeneity of stroke and the need to determine appropriate outcome measures, to use neurological deficit scales that can accurately predict disability, to ensure adequate follow-up, and to use scales that can be used outside of clinical trials by all health care professionals. Such scales should be easily and quickly administered, responsive, valid, and reliable. The most important categories of stroke scales are neurological deficit scales (e.g., Canadian Neurological Scale, European Stroke Scale, and National Institutes of Health [NIH] Stroke Scale), functional outcome scales (e.g., Barthel Index), and global outcome scales (e.g., Modified Rankin Scale). Although stroke-specific, health-related quality-of-life (HRQL) scales have yet to be developed and validated, general HRQL scales such as the Nottingham Health Profile, the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36, the Sickness Impact Profile, and the Health Utilities Index may be used to assess stroke patients. Lacking the ideal single stroke outcome scale, we continue to recomend a combination of scales: the NIH Stroke Scale (or similar deficit scale), the Barthel Index, and the Rankin Scale.
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