Original Research

The impact of meningitis on the motor function of adult survivors in Harare, Zimbabwe

Jennifer Jelsma, Helen Lilley, Helen Smith, Jens Mielke, James Hakim, Innocent Gangaidzo, Robert Heyderman
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 55, No 1 | a552 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v55i1.552 | © 2018 Jennifer Jelsma, Helen Lilley, Helen Smith, Jens Mielke, James Hakim, Innocent Gangaidzo, Robert Heyderman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 September 2018 | Published: 28 February 1999

About the author(s)

Jennifer Jelsma, Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Helen Lilley,
Helen Smith,
Jens Mielke,
James Hakim,
Innocent Gangaidzo,
Robert Heyderman,

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Abstract

Objective: The study aimed to document the spectrum of motor impairments and the degree of functional limitation of those who survived adult meningitis and to identify which factors were associated with a poor functional outcome and mortality.

Methods: A prospective study was undertaken in the central hospitals in Harare, Zimbabwe. Twenty six adult patients who had survived meningitis were interviewed between one and five months post-admission. Seventeen of these were examined in the clinic for signs of impairment. Nine did not attend the follow-up session and were interviewed at home. The Barthel Activities of Daily Living Index (BI) was administered to all twenty six subjects.

Results: Twenty subjects were HIV sero-positive. Eight subjects died in the time period between the one month interview and the final follow-up five months later. The majority of the seventeen examined in the clinic, demonstrated sensory and motor disturbances. Seven of the twenty six subjects scored eighteen or less on the BI. Forward stepwise logistic regression revealed that a low BI was the only variable which significantly predicted mortality (p.<0.01). The odds of a patient with a low BI dying were 63 times the odds of a patient dying who had a normal BI.

Discussion and Conclusions: Survivors of meningitis in this study displayed a diversity of impairments and disabilities. Rehabilitation intervention is recommended to provide functional reeducation and support for those with a low BI and to mitigate against the effects of the impairments. A measure of functional disability should be included in the examination of these clients as functional impairment appears to be a predictor of mortality.


Keywords

adult meningitis; HIV; impairment; disability; Barthel index

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