Aphasia Increases Cost of Care After Ischemic Stroke

Also associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and length of stay

FRIDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- In ischemic stroke patients, aphasia is associated with greater morbidity, higher mortality, and increased length of stay, and adds $1,703 per patient to the cost of stroke-related care, according to research published online Feb. 16 in Stroke.

To quantify the contribution of aphasia to the overall cost of stroke care, Charles Ellis, Ph.D., of the VA Center for Disease Prevention and Health Interventions for Diverse Populations in Charleston, S.C., and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of 3,200 Medicare beneficiaries who experienced ischemic stroke in 2004.

The researchers found that more than 12 percent of the study patients exhibited post-stroke aphasia. Those with aphasia also had increased mortality and morbidity as well as longer length of stays than those without aphasia. After adjusting for relevant covariates, the overall one-year attributable cost of aphasia in 2004 was found to be $1,703.

"These findings are important because dramatic changes are occurring in health care reimbursement, specifically imposed caps on Medicare reimbursement for outpatient speech language pathology and physical therapy," Ellis said in a statement. "Although the current reimbursement cap is $1,870 for these therapies, the financial burden of the cap remains a major limiting factor to access long-term rehabilitation for patients with persisting aphasia."

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