A ranked activities of daily living (ADL) scale has been developed for stroke patients, on which an individual's score predicts his/her overall function ability. With an unranked scale the same total score can be obtained from different combinations of items and gives little idea of the patient's general pattern or degree of disability. The items in the scale are easy to assess on both inpatients and outpatients, and accepted criteria for valid ranking are fulfilled. A strong relation was found between scale score one month post-stroke and length of stay in hospital. Low scores at one month were also associated with high mortality during the subsequent five months. "Formal" and "informal" methods of ADL assessment were compared, and only small and unimportant differences were found. Assessments by postal questionnaire were also evaluated and agreed well with formal assessments carried out by visiting the patients' homes. Use of some or all of these methods would help to simplify and standardise follow up records for both routine care and research.
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