Neurologic recovery after traumatic spinal cord injury: Data from the Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems

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Objective: To present data on neurologic recovery gathered by the Model Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Systems over a 10-year period. Design: Case series. Setting: Twenty-one Model SCI Systems. Patients: A total of 3,585 individuals with traumatic SCI admitted between January 1, 1988 and December 31, 1997. Main Outcome Measures: Neurologic impairment category; Frankel grade; American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) grade; motor score. Results: SCI caused by violence is more likely than SCI from nonviolent etiologies to result in a complete injury. Changes in severity of injury were similar using the older Frankel scale and the newer ASIA Impairment Scale. Individuals who were motor-complete with extended zones of sensory preservation but without sacral sparing were less likely to convert to motor-incomplete status than those with sacral sparing (13.3% vs 53.6%; p < .001). Motor score improvements at 1 year were related to severity of injury, with greater increases for better AIS grades except grade D, because of ceiling effects. Individuals with AIS grade B injuries have a mixed prognosis. Conclusion: Neurologic recovery after SCI is influenced by etiology and severity of injury. Multicenter studies on prognostic features such as preserved pin sensation in grade B injuries may identify subgroups with similar recovery patterns. Identification of such groups would facilitate clinical trials for neurologic recovery in acute SCI.




Marino, R. J., Ditunno, J. F., Donovan, W. H., & Maynard, F. (1999). Neurologic recovery after traumatic spinal cord injury: Data from the Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 80(11), 1391–1396.

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