Objective: To identify prognostic factors associated with functional outcome at 13 months in a sample of stroke rehabilitation patients. Specifically, we hypothesized that cognitive functioning early after stroke would predict long-term functional outcome independently of other factors. Methods: 163 stroke rehabilitation patients underwent a structured neuropsychological examination 2–3 weeks after hospital admittance, and their functional status was subsequently evaluated 13 months later with the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) as outcome measure. Three predictive models were built using linear regression analyses: a biological model (sociodemographics, apolipoprotein E genotype, prestroke vascular factors, lesion characteristics and neurological stroke-related impairment); a functional model (pre- and early post-stroke cognitive functioning, personal and instrumental activities of daily living, ADL, and depressive symptoms), and a combined model (including significant variables, with p value <0.05, from the biological and functional models). Results: A combined model of 4 variables best predicted long-term functional outcome with explained variance of 49%: neurological impairment (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale; β = 0.402, p < 0.001), age (β = 0.233, p = 0.001), post-stroke cognitive functioning (Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological Status, RBANS; β = –0.248, p = 0.001) and prestroke personal ADL (Barthel Index; β = –0.217, p = 0.002). Further linear regression analyses of which RBANS indexes and subtests best predicted long-term functional outcome showed that Coding (β = –0.484, p < 0.001) and Figure Copy (β = –0.233, p = 0.002) raw scores at baseline explained 42% of the variance in mRS scores at follow-up. Conclusions: Early post-stroke cognitive functioning as measured by the RBANS is a significant and independent predictor of long-term functional post-stroke outcome.

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