Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed a simple test that might help determine how patients recover from strokes even three later, according to a study.
One week after a stroke, the test checked for cognitive skills among participants in Germany and France. The findings were published Wednesday in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"We found that this test, which takes less than 10 minutes, can help predict whether people will have impaired thinking skills, problems that keep them from performing daily tasks such as bathing and dressing and even whether they will be more likely to die," study author Dr. Martin Dichgans, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, said in a press release.
He added the test can be a good tool for providers to assess post-stroke outcomes.
"This test should be used to screen people with stroke and to counsel them and their families about long-term prognosis and also to identify those who would most benefit from interventions that could improve their outcomes," he said.
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment was administered to 274 participants -- 125 from Germany and 149 from France with followups at six, 12 and 36 months.
They were divided into two groups: those with no problems with thinking and memory skills and those with cognitive impairment. They were tested for their thinking and memory skills, motor functioning and ability to complete daily living tasks.
Those with thinking problems within one week of the stroke were seven times more likely to die during the three years than those who did not have thinking problems.
The survival rates after three years were 83 percent for those among those with thinking problems and 97 percent with none.
Among those with thinking problems on the first test, they were five times more likely to have problems with their motor skills. After three years, 29 percent of those with thinking problems on the first test had problems with their motor skills compared 5 percent of those without thinking problems early on.
Among those with cognitive impairment, 42 percent had problems completing their daily activities, including bathing and dressing three years after a stroke. Among those without cognitive impairment, it was 13 percent.
And those with cognitive impairment were five times more likely to continue having thinking problems three years after the stroke than those without.
Most of the people involved had relatively mild strokes. But the test helped predict outcomes even when the severity of the stroke was taken into account.