Motor recovery, functional status, and health-related quality of life in patients with complete spinal cord injuries

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2005 Oct 1;30(19):2200-7. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000181058.06412.a9.


Study design: A retrospective cohort with cross- sectional follow-up.

Objectives: The primary objective was to determine motor recovery in patients with complete traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Secondary objectives included: 1) determining which factors predict local recovery, 2) assessing functional status using the Functional Independence Measure (FIM), and 3) assessing generic health-related quality of life using the Short Form-36 (SF-36).

Summary of background data: Motor recovery following complete SCI has been documented in the literature; however, it has been difficult to interpret: 1) spinal shock is often not addressed; 2) the definition of complete SCI has changed over the last 10 years; and 3) few studies differentiate between local neurologic recovery in the zone of partial preservation and neurologic recovery caudal to the lesion.

Methods: All patients admitted to Vancouver Hospital with a complete SCI between 1994 and 2001 were identified and included in the study if they remained complete following the resolution of spinal shock. Minimum 2-year follow-up consisted of an ASIA motor score, an FIM, and the SF-36.

Results: Of 133 patients identified, 94 were eligible and 70 completed follow-up. For the tetraplegic patients, the average ASIA motor score was 11.9 +/- 10.7 on admission and 20.1 +/- 10.8 at follow-up, a change reflecting local recovery only. For the paraplegic patients, the average ASIA motor score was 49.3 +/- 2.4 on admission and 50.6 +/- 1.7 at follow-up.

Conclusions: Motor recovery does not occur below the zone of injury for patients with complete SCI. Varying degrees of local recovery can be expected in tetraplegic individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement*
  • Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Quadriplegia / etiology
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*