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Tonje Haug Nordenmark, Tanja Karic, Cecilie Røe, Wilhelm Sorteberg, and Angelika Sorteberg

OBJECTIVE

Although many patients recover to a good functional outcome after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH), residual symptoms are very common and may have a large impact on the patient’s daily life. The particular cluster of residual symptoms after aSAH has not previously been described in detail and there is no validated questionnaire that covers the typical problems reported after aSAH. Many of the symptoms are similar to post-concussion syndrome, which often is evaluated with the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ). In the present study, the authors therefore performed an exploratory use of the RPQ as a template to describe post-aSAH syndrome.

METHODS

The RPQ was administered to 128 patients in the chronic phase after aSAH along with a battery of quality-of-life questionnaires. The patients also underwent a medical examination besides cognitive and physical testing. Based on their RPQ scores, patients were dichotomized into a “syndrome” group or “recovery” group.

RESULTS

A post-aSAH syndrome was seen in 33% of the patients and their symptom burden on all RPQ subscales was significantly higher than that of patients who had recovered on all RPQ subscales. The symptom cluster consisted mainly of fatigue, cognitive problems, and emotional problems. Physical problems were less frequently reported. Patients with post-aSAH syndrome scored significantly worse on mobility and pain scores, as well as on quality-of-life questionnaires. They also had significantly poorer scores on neuropsychological tests of verbal learning, verbal short- and long-term memory, psychomotor speed, and executive functions. Whereas 36% of the patients in the recovery group were able to return to their premorbid occupational status, this was true for only 1 patient in the syndrome group.

CONCLUSIONS

Approximately one-third of aSAH patients develop a post-aSAH syndrome. These patients struggle with fatigue and cognitive and emotional problems. Patients with post-aSAH syndrome report more pain and reduced quality of life compared to patients without this cluster of residual symptoms and have larger cognitive deficits. In this sample, patients with post-aSAH syndrome were almost invariably excluded from return to work. The RPQ is a simple questionnaire covering the specter of residual symptoms after aSAH. Being able to acknowledge these patients’ complaints as a defined syndrome using the RPQ should help patients to accept and cope, thereby alleviating possible secondary distress produced.

Open access

Elin Western, Tonje Haug Nordenmark, Wilhelm Sorteberg, Agnes Sorteberg, Tanja Karic, and Angelika Sorteberg

OBJECTIVE

Fatigue after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is common and usually long-lasting, and it has a considerable negative impact on health-related quality of life (HRQOL), social functioning, and the ability to return to work (RTW). No effective treatment exists. The dopaminergic regulator (−)-OSU6162 has shown promising results regarding the mitigation of fatigue in various neurological diseases, and therefore the authors aimed to investigate the efficacy of (−)-OSU6162 in alleviating fatigue and other sequelae after aSAH.

METHODS

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, single-center trial was performed in which 96 participants with post-aSAH fatigue were administered 30–60 mg/day of (−)-OSU6162 or placebo over a period of 12 weeks. Efficacy was assessed using the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), the Mental Fatigue Scale (MFS), the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), the SF-36 questionnaire, and a neuropsychological test battery. Assessments were performed at baseline, after 1, 4, 8, and 12 weeks of treatment, and at follow-up, 8 weeks after treatment.

RESULTS

The 96 participants with post-aSAH fatigue were randomized to treatment with (−)-OSU6162 (n = 49) or placebo (n = 47). The FSS, MFS, and BDI scores improved significantly in both groups after 12 weeks of treatment, whereas the BAI scores improved in the placebo group only. HRQOL improved significantly in the SF-36 domain “Vitality” in both groups. Neuropsychological test performances were within the normal range at baseline and not affected by treatment. The FSS score was distinctly improved in patients with complete RTW upon treatment with (−)-OSU6162. Concomitant use of antidepressants improved the efficacy of (−)-OSU6162 on the FSS score at week 1 beyond the placebo response, and correspondingly the use of beta- or calcium-channel blockers improved the (−)-OSU6162 efficacy beyond the placebo response in MFS scores at week 4 of treatment. There was a significant correlation between improvement in FSS, BAI, and BDI scores and the plasma concentration of (−)-OSU6162 at the dose of 60 mg/day. No serious adverse events were attributable to the treatment, but dizziness was reported more often in the (−)-OSU6162 group.

CONCLUSIONS

Fatigue and other sequelae after aSAH were similarly alleviated by treatment with (−)-OSU6162 and placebo. (−)-OSU6162 improved fatigue, as measured with the FSS score, significantly in patients with complete RTW. There seemed to be synergetic effects of (−)-OSU6162 and medications interfering with dopaminergic pathways that should be explored further. The strong placebo response may be exploited in developing nonpharmacological treatment programs for post-aSAH fatigue.

Full access

Tanja Karic, Cecilie Røe, Tonje Haug Nordenmark, Frank Becker, Wilhelm Sorteberg, and Angelika Sorteberg

OBJECTIVE

Early rehabilitation is effective in an array of acute neurological disorders but it is not established as part of treatment guidelines after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH). This may in part be due to the fear of aggravating the development of cerebral vasospasm, which is the most feared complication of aSAH. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of early rehabilitation and mobilization on complications during the acute phase and within 90 days after aSAH.

METHODS

This was a prospective, interventional study that included patients with aSAH at the neuro-intermediate ward after aneurysm repair. The control group received standard treatment, whereas the early rehab group underwent early rehabilitation and mobilization in addition to standard treatment. Clinical and radiological characteristics of patients with aSAH, progression in mobilization, and treatment variables were registered. The frequency and severity of cerebral vasospasm, cerebral infarction acquired in conjunction with the aSAH, and acute and chronic hydrocephalus, as well as pulmonary and thromboembolic complications, were compared between the 2 groups.

RESULTS

Clinical and radiological characteristics of patients with aSAH were similar between the groups. The early rehab group was mobilized beginning on the first day after aneurysm repair. The significantly quicker and higher degree of mobilization in the early rehab group did not increase complications. Clinical cerebral vasospasm was not as frequent in the early rehab group and it also tended to be less severe. Each step of mobilization achieved during the first 4 days after aneurysm repair reduced the risk of severe vasospasm by 30%. Acute and chronic hydrocephalus were similar in both groups, but there was a tendency toward earlier shunt implantation among patients in the control group. Pulmonary infections, thromboembolic events, and death before discharge or within 90 days after the ictus were similar between the 2 groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Early rehabilitation of patients after aSAH is safe and feasible. The earlier and higher degree of mobilization does not increase neurosurgical complications. Rather, the frequency and severity of cerebral vasospasm following aSAH are alleviated and are not aggravated by early rehabilitation.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01656317 (www.clinicaltrials.gov).