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Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke

Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke

6th Edition - 2019 UPDATED

Rehabilitation and Recovery Following Stroke Module Overview +-

The CSBPR Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke module provides guidance to health professionals caring for people with stroke and is applicable to people with a range of impairments and limitations from very mild to very severe.  Stroke rehabilitation applies across the continuum of care from the early rehabilitation assessments soon after the stroke occurs, throughout the early recovery phase (usually the first 90 days) and continues beyond that to ensure that each individual achieves optimal recovery and is able to maintain and sustain recovery and minimize deterioration over time.  This applies across all functional domains, including physical, cognitive, psychological and social domains, and across a range of inpatient and community settings. People with stroke may move back and forth between different stages of care as their healthcare needs and situations change and it is important that ongoing rehabilitation needs to be reassessed and individual rehabilitation plans be updated at all transition points and when there is a change in health status.

Notable Changes in the Rehabilitation and Recovery Following Stroke Module, Update 2019 +-

With each update edition of the CSBPR  modules, the most current evidence on the included topics are reviewed by the writing group members and internal and external reviewers. Some recommendations from the previous edition have been continued unchanged, others have been modified to reflect updated evidence (either wording or evidence levels) or removed based on decisions of the writing group regarding ongoing relevance and or changes in supporting evidence. New recommendations be also been added to address emerging evidence and practice changes.

The Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations (CSBPR) Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke 2019 Sixth Edition module supersedes all recommendations from the CSBPR Stroke Rehabilitation 2015 Fifth Edition module.

The 2019 update of the CSBPR Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke module reinforces the growing and changing body of research evidence available to guide assessment, diagnosis and management of stroke related impairments in the days, weeks and months following a stroke.

Highlights of the moderate and significant updates as well as new additions to the Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke module recommendations for 2019 include:

  • New clinical considerations have been added to each section, acknowledging emerging therapies and consensus-based practices where there is a lack of sufficient evidence to qualify as a recommendations, yet users of CSBPR have requested some expert guidance on the topic.
  • The module contents were reviewed by anew Community Consultation and Review Panel (CCRP), consisting of a group of people with stroke, their families, and caregivers.This group reviewed all modules immediately following the writing group’s review and edits, and provided personal experiences and context.Their inputs were received and integrated into appropriate sections throughout the module, such as the rationale, system implications, and resource sections throughout the module.
  • New recommendations provided to address people who are unable to produce any voluntary muscle activity in the affected upper limb. These statements focus on compensatory techniques using the non-paretic arm and associated adaptive equipment to ensure basic activities of daily living.
  • Updates on the recommendations on the use of slings stating that they are discouraged except for the flaccid stage.Previous recommendations described the use of slings as controversial.
  • New recommendation added regarding taping of a hemiplegic shoulder to reduce pain.
  • New recommendation added addressing the insufficient evidence for or against the use of compression garments (e.g. compression gloves) for hand edema.Additionally, for hand edema, a statement was added recommending elevation of the arm when at rest if possible.
  • More detailed recommendations are provided on biofeedback to improve gait training and improve functional recovery.
  • Increased detail on balance-related recommendations.
  • Gait aid recommendations have been integrated into lower-limb gait training, balance, and aerobic training, rather than being a specific subheading of recommendations.
  • Significant updates made to recommendations on visual perceptual deficits, including that limb activation and trunk rotation do not appear to be effective at improving neglect and that virtual reality and computer-based interventions for neglect are effective for improving visual perception and alleviating right-hemisphere bias.
  • New recommendation added addressing augmentative alternative communication (e.g. tablets, electronic devices, alphabet boards) and other technology for patients with language and communication challenges.
  • Rehabilitation approaches, therapies and interventions for topics related to life roles and community participation have been removed from this module.They are now contained in the Rehabilitation, Recovery and Community Participation module Part 2:Transitions and Community Participation module, to streamline information and reduce redundancy.These recommendations can be found here.
Guideline Development Methodology +-

The detailed methodology and explanations for each of these steps in the development and dissemination of the CSBPR  is available in the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations Overview and Methodology manual available on the Canadian stroke best practices website at

Citing the Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke Module Update 2019 Sixth Edition +-

Robert Teasell (First Author), Nancy M Salbach (Co-First Author) Nicole Acerra, Diana Bastasi, Sherri L Carter, Joyce Fung, Mary-Lou Halabi, Jocelyn Harris, Esther Kim, Andrea Noland, Sepideh Pooyania, Annie Rochette, Bridget D Stack, Erin Symcox, Debbie Timpson, Suja Varghese, and Sue Verrilli on behalf of the Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke Writing Group. Rehabilitation and Recovery Following Stroke module 2019. In M. Patrice Lindsay, Anita Mountain, Gord Gubitz, Dar Dowlatshahi, Leanne K Casaubon, Andrea de Jong and Eric E Smith (Editors) on behalf of the Canadian Stroke Best Practices Advisory Committee. Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario Canada: Heart and Stroke Foundation.


We invite comments, suggestions, and inquiries on the development and application of the CSBPR. Please forward comments to the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Stroke Team at

Rehabilitation and Recovery following Stroke module contents +-

A: Organization of a Stroke Rehabilitation System for Optimal Service Delivery

1.0 Initial Stroke Rehabilitation Assessment

2.0 Stroke Rehabilitation Unit Care

3.0 Delivery of Inpatient Stroke Rehabilitation

4.0 Outpatient & In-Home Stroke Rehabilitation (including Early Supported Discharge)

B: Providing Stroke Rehabilitation to Address Physical, Functional, Cognitive and Emotional Issues to Maximize Participation in Usual Life Roles

5.0 Management of the Upper Extremity following Stroke

5.1 Management of the Upper Extremity Following Stroke – General Principles and Therapies 

5.2 Range of Motion and Spasticity in the Shoulder, Arm and Hand

5.3 Management of Shoulder Pain & Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) following Stroke

6.0 Management of the Lower Extremity following Stroke

6.1 Balance and Mobility

6.2 Lower Limb Spasticity following Stroke

6.3 Falls Prevention and Management

7.0 Assessment and Management of Dysphagia and Malnutrition following Stroke

8.0 Rehabilitation of Visual Perception Deficits

9.0 Management of Central Pain

10.0 Rehabilitation to Improve Language and Communication

Stroke Resources