Systematic review of clinical practice guidelines to identify recommendations for rehabilitation after stroke and other acquired brain injuries

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Objectives Rehabilitation clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) contain recommendation statements aimed at optimising care for adults with stroke and other brain injury. The aim of this study was to determine the quality, scope and consistency of CPG recommendations for rehabilitation covering the acquired brain injury populations. Design Systematic review. Interventions Included CPGs contained recommendations for inpatient rehabilitation or community rehabilitation for adults with an acquired brain injury diagnosis (stroke, traumatic or other non-progressive acquired brain impairments). Electronic databases (n=2), guideline organisations (n=4) and websites of professional societies (n=17) were searched up to November 2017. Two independent reviewers used the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument, and textual syntheses were used to appraise and compare recommendations. Results From 427 papers screened, 20 guidelines met the inclusion criteria. Only three guidelines were rated high (>75%) across all domains of AGREE-II; highest rated domains were 'scope and purpose' (85.1, SD 18.3) and 'clarity' (76.2%, SD 20.5). Recommendations for assessment and for motor therapies were most commonly reported, however, varied in the level of detail across guidelines. Conclusion Rehabilitation CPGs were consistent in scope, suggesting little difference in rehabilitation approaches between vascular and traumatic brain injury. There was, however, variability in included studies and methodological quality. PROSPERO registration number CRD42016026936.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere018791
Number of pages14
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • brain injury
  • evaluation
  • practice guideline
  • rehabilitation
  • stroke

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