High-dose supplements may improve stroke rehab

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who are undernourished after suffering a stroke benefit from intensive dietary supplementation during rehabilitation, according to results of a pilot study conducted at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in New York.

Dr. M. H. Rabadi, currently at the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, and associates compared intensive and routine nutritional supplementation in 102 undernourished patients admitted within 4 weeks of having a stroke. All had unintentionally lost at least 2.5 percent of their body weight.

The “standard” supplement was Resource Standard, containing 127 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 36 milligrams of vitamin C per dose; the “intensive” supplement was Novasource 2.0 containing 240 calories, 11 grams of protein, and 90 milligrams of vitamin C per dose. Both supplements, made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, were given every 8 hours along with multivitamins with minerals, in addition to the normal diet.

The study participants given intensive supplementation improved significantly more than their counterparts on measures of motor function such as a standard functional independence score (31.5 vs. 22.9) and the change in the distance they could walk in 6 minutes (299 vs 170 feet).

“These differences were perceived clinically important by the patients, their families, and the physicians and other health care providers caring for them,” Rabadi’s team reports in the medical journal Neurology.

A higher percentage of patients in the intensive group (63 percent) than in the standard group (43 percent) returned home after the rehab program rather than going to a nursing facility.

“The data reflect real life practice,” the researchers conclude, “the results of which can be incorporated into routine clinical care of patients with stroke admitted to rehabilitation units.”

SOURCE: Neurology, December 2, 2008.

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