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Executive function deficits in acute stroke.

Zinn S, Bosworth HB, Hoenig HM, Swartzwelder HS. Executive function deficits in acute stroke. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. 2007 Feb 1; 88(2):173-80.

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Zinn S, Bosworth HB, Hoenig HM, Swartzwelder HS. Executive function deficits in acute stroke. OBJECTIVES: To establish the frequency of executive dysfunction during acute hospitalization for stroke and to examine the relationship of that dysfunction to stroke severity and premorbid characteristics. DESIGN: Inception cohort study. SETTING: Inpatient wards at a Veterans Affairs hospital. PARTICIPANTS: Consecutive sample of inpatients with radiologically or neurologically confirmed stroke. Final sample included 47 patients screened for aphasia and capable of neuropsychologic testing. Two nonstroke inpatient control samples (n = 10 each) with either transient ischemic attack (TIA) or multiple stroke risk factors were administered the same research procedure and tests. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Composite cognitive impairment ratio (CIR), calculated from 8 scores indicative of executive function on 6 neuropsychologic tests by dividing number of tests completed into the number of scores falling below cutoff point, defined as 1.5 standard deviations below normative population mean. RESULTS: Stroke patients had a mean CIR of .61, compared with .48 for TIAs and .44 for stroke-risk-only. Analysis of variance revealed that CIRs of stroke-risk-only patients but not TIAs were lower than those of the stroke patients (P = .02). Impairment frequencies were at least 50% for stroke patients on most test scores. The Symbol Digit Modalities Test (75% impairment) and a design fluency measure distinguished stroke from nonstroke patients. CIR was not related to stroke severity in the stroke patient sample, but was related to estimated premorbid intelligence. CONCLUSIONS: Executive function deficits are common in stroke patients. The data suggest that limitations in information processing due to these deficits may require environmental and procedural accommodations to increase rehabilitation benefit.

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