Fatigue is a multidimensional, motor-perceptive, cognitive and emotional experience. It is described as “a feeling of early exhaustion with weariness, lack of energy and aversion to effort that develops during physical or mental activity and is usually not ameliorated by rest” (Staub & Bogousslavsky, 2001). Post-stroke fatigue can be distinguished into three types:

1) physical fatigue (i.e. inability to perform activities at physical lengths and intensities);
2) cognitive fatigue (i.e. inability to perform activities at concentration, multitasking and/or cognitive load stressors lengths and intensities); and
3) emotional fatigue (i.e. getting tired when facing demanding interactions or relationships) (Terrill, Schwartz & Belagaje, 2018).

Post-stroke fatigue is a prevalent stroke consequence, affecting more than 50% of stroke survivors (Cumming et al. 2016). Prevalence cannot be explained by type of stroke, side of stroke or lesion location. Prevalence is also not associated to stroke severity, meaning that prevalence is the same in mild stroke as compared to severe stroke (Acciarresi et al., 2014). Fatigue is associated with depressive symptoms but can be present without depression. Its association to cognitive deficits and gender remains unclear. However, higher levels of fatigue are found to be associated with female sex, depression, longer post-stroke time period and greater disability (Cumming et al., 2018).

A documentary (lasting 40 minutes) presenting how fatigue impacts daily life of five individuals and what strategies they use to effectively cope with fatigue was produced in March 2019. The documentary (in French) can be viewed by clicking here.

Acciarresi, M., Bogousslavsky, J., & Paciaroni. M. (2014). Post-stroke fatigue: epidemiology, clinical characteristics and treatment. European Neurology, 72, 255-61.
Carlsson, G.E., Möller, A., & Blomstrand, C. (2003). Consequences of mild stroke in persons. Cerebrovascular Diseases16(4), 383-388.
Cumming, T.B., Packer, M., Kramer, S.F., & English, C. (2016). The prevalence of fatigue after stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Stroke, 11, 968-77.
Cumming, T.B., Yeo, A.B., Marquez, J., Churilov, L., Annoni, J.M., Badaru, U., … & Mills, R. (2018). Investigating post-stroke fatigue: An individual participant data meta-analysisJournal of Psychosomatic Research113, 107-112.
Glader, E.L., Stegmayr, B., & Asplund, K. (2002). Poststroke fatigue: a 2-year follow-up study of stroke patients in Sweden. Stroke33(5), 1327-1333.
Schepers, V.P., Visser-Meily, A.M., Ketelaar, M., & Lindeman, E. (2006). Poststroke fatigue: course and its relation to personal and stroke-related factors. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation87(2), 184-188.
Staub, F. & Bogousslavsky, J. (2001). Fatigue after stroke: a major but neglected issue. Cerebrovascular Diseases12(2), 75-81.
Terrill, A.L., Schwartz, J.K., & Belagaje, S.R. (2018). Best Practices for The Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Team: A Review of Mental Health Issues in Mild Stroke Survivors. Stroke Research and Treatment, Volume 2018, Article ID 6187328.

Authors*: Tatiana Ogourtsova, PhD OT; Annabel McDermott, OT

Evidence reviewed as of before 28-08-2019

NOTE: *The authors have no direct financial interest in any tools, tests or interventions presented in StrokEngine.