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Stratified management of hemiplegic shoulder pain using an integrated care pathway: an 18-year clinical cohort analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Michele Walsh, Stephen Ashford, Hilary Rose, Ejessie Alfonso, Aideen Steed, Lynne Turner-Stokes

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Early online date26 Jul 2021
Accepted/In press2021
E-pub ahead of print26 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


PURPOSE: Hemiplegic shoulder pain (HSP) is a common but heterogeneous complication of acquired brain injury. Integrated care pathways (ICPs) can support clinical decision-making, prompting timely intervention to improve quality of care. This 18-year cohort analysis of clinical data presents outcomes from an ICP for management of HSP in an inpatient rehabilitation unit.

MATERIALS & METHODS: Consecutive data were extracted for all eligible patients admitted between 2000-2018 (n = 333). Patients were categorised according to presentation pattern ("Floppy-subluxed" (59%), "Painful-stiff" (21%) or Mixed/not categorised(20%)) to help guide early management. Pain was assessed using the Shoulder-Q with pain ratings/10 in three domains: rest, night-time and movement. Patients with pain reduction ≥3 points in any domain were designated 'responders'.

RESULTS: Mean baseline pain scores were 4.7 (95%CI 4.5,5.0). They were higher on movement (6.1(5.8,6.3)) than at rest (4.7(4.3, 5.0)) or at night (5.7(5.2,5.9)). Pain reduced significantly in all three domains (p < 0.0001) with a 65% overall response rate and complete resolution of pain 21-41%. There was a significant relationship between category of presentation pattern and management protocol used (X2 = 31.2, p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: These high pain-response rates compare favourably to the literature (14-27%), suggesting that this stratified and integrated approach to HSP guides more effective management in this heterogeneous clinical presentation.Implications for RehabilitationTwo-thirds of the patients demonstrated a clinically-significant reduction in pain when managed using the integrated care pathway. These results compare favourably with pain resolution rates of well under one-third cited in the literature and suggest that the integrated care pathway leads to reduced pain and improved patient outcomes.Hemiplegic shoulder pain can result from a range of different clinical problems. The diversity of presentation and the range of required treatments are confirmed in this 18-year cohort analysis.Heterogeneity in presentation of HSP poses a challenge for both management and the evaluation of outcome. The results of this study suggest that a stratified approach helps to guide more effective management.

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