The Assessment of Premorbid Intellectual Ability Following Right-Hemisphere Stroke: Reliability of a Lexical Decision Task
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Comparing current with estimated premorbid performance helps identify acquired cognitive deficits after brain injury. Tests of reading pronunciation, often used to measure premorbid ability, are inappropriate for stroke patients with motor speech problems. The Spot-the-Word Test (STWT), a measure of lexical decision, offers an alternative approach for estimating premorbid capacity in those with speech problems. However, little is known about the STWT's reliability. In the present study, a consecutive sample of right-hemisphere stroke (RHS) patients (n = 56) completed the STWT at 4 and 16 weeks poststroke. A control group, individually matched to the patients for age and initial STWT score, also completed the STWT on two occasions. More than 80% of patients had STWT scores at retest within 2 scaled score points of their initial score, suggesting that the STWT is a reliable measure for most individuals with RHS. However, RHS patients had significantly greater score change than controls. Limits of agreement analysis revealed that approximately 1 in 7 patients obtained abnormally large STWT score improvements at retest. It is concluded that although the STWT is a useful assessment tool for stroke clinicians, this instrument may significantly underestimate premorbid level of ability in approximately 14% of stroke patients.
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