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Background: Neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) is a rehabilitation approach increasingly used in the care of stroke patients, although no evidence has been provided for its efficacy.
Objective: To investigate the effects of NDT on the functional status and quality of life (QoL) of patients with stroke during one year after stroke onset.
Methods: 324 consecutive patients with stroke from 12 Dutch hospitals were included in a prospective, non-randomised, parallel group study. In the experimental group (n = 223), nurses and physiotherapists from six neurological wards used the NDT approach, while conventional treatment was used in six control wards (n = 101). Functional status was assessed by the Barthel index. Primary outcome was "poor outcome", defined as Barthel index <12 or death after one year. QoL was assessed with the 30 item version of the sickness impact profile (SA-SIP30) and the visual analogue scale.
Results: At 12 months, 59 patients (27%) in the NDT group and 24 (24%) in the non-NDT group had poor outcome (corresponding adjusted odds ratio = 1.7 (95% confidence interval, 0.8 to 3.5)). At discharge the adjusted odds ratio was 0.8 (0.4 to 1.5) and after six months it was 1.6 (0.8 to 3.2). Adjusted mean differences in the two QoL measures showed no significant differences between the study groups at six or 12 months after stroke onset.
Conclusions: The NDT approach was not found effective in the care of stroke patients in the hospital setting. Health care professionals need to reconsider the use of this approach.