Post Stroke Language Impairment Ups Costs

Aphasia after stroke substantially increases medical costs

(RxWiki News) Patients who develop language impairment during the first year after a stroke may need to open their pocketbook a little wider. Language impairment appears to add substantial costs to post-stroke care.

Patients who suffer language impairment, also called aphasia, appear to pay an additional $1,703 per person in medical costs during the first year following an ischemic stroke.

"Call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect a stroke."

Charles Ellis, lead author and associate professor of Health Sciences and Research at the Medical University of South Carolina, said the findings are important because there have been dramatic changes in healthcare reimbursement for outpatient services such as speech language pathology and physical therapy.

He said this means some patients could have limited access to long-term rehabilitation following stroke-related language impairment. Each year about 100,000 patients suffer aphasia following a stroke.

During the study, investigators reviewed the records of 3,200 South Carolina Medicare patients who had ischemic strokes in 2004. About 12 percent of the patients were found to have language impairment, or 398 patients.

They found that Medicare payments averaged $20,734 for patients that suffered language impairment as compared to $18,683 for those who did not. Patients that did suffer language impairment tended to be older, and had more severe strokes.

Researchers also determined that those suffering language impairment had higher rates of illness or dying. They also tended to remain in healthcare facilities 6.5 percent longer.

The study was recently published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.