Predictors of upper limb recovery after stroke: a systematic review and meta analysis

Fiona Coupar, A.S. Pollock, Philip Rowe, C. Weir, Peter Langhorne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Citations (Scopus)


Aims to systematically review and summarize the current available literature on prognostic variables relating to upper limb recovery following stroke. To identify which, if any variables predict upper limb recovery following stroke. We completed searches in MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL and Cochrane CENTRAL databases. Searches were completed in November 2010. Studies were included if predictor variables were measured at baseline and linked to an outcome of upper limb recovery at a future time point. Exclusion criteria included predictor variables relating to response to treatment and outcome measurements of very specific upper limb impairments such as spasticity or pain. Two independent reviewers completed data extraction and assessed study quality.Fifty-eight studies met the inclusion criteria. Predictor variables which have been considered within these studies include; age, sex, lesion site, initial motor impairment, motor-evoked potentials andsomatosensory-evoked potentials. Initial measures of upper limb impairment and function were found to be the most significant predictors of upper limb recovery; odds ratio 14.84 (95% confidence intervals (CI) 9.08-24.25) and 38.62 (95% CI 8.40-177.53), respectively. Interpretation of these results is complicated by methodological factors including variations in study populations, upper limb motor outcome scales, timing of baseline and outcome assessments and predictors selected. The most important predictive factors for upper limb recovery following stroke appears to the initial severity of motor impairment or function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-313
Number of pages23
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Early online date24 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


  • arm
  • rehabilitation
  • predictors
  • upper limb
  • review
  • stroke
  • meta analysis

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