Early versus delayed inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation: An Italian study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To examine what effect the injury-to-rehabilitation interval has on the outcome of spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation. Design: Retrospective study. Setting: Spinal unit of a large rehabilitation hospital. Participants: Consecutive admissions were divided into groups according to age, sex, and American Spinal Injury Association impairment grade and neurologic level of injury. The patients were matched for these variables and divided into groups according to the interval from injury to admission into acute rehabilitation. This approach resulted in 150 patients with SCI grouped into 50 comparison subgroupings. Three comparison groups - short (60d) time to admission (TTA) - were evaluated for rehabilitation outcomes. Main Outcome Measures: Barthel Index, Rivermead Mobility Index, Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury, and motor scores at admission and discharge were examined. The changes and efficiencies were evaluated. Results: The 3 groups were comparable for all medical and demographic characteristics as well as neurologic recovery. The 3 subgroups differed significantly in activity of daily living outcomes, with the short TTA group exhibiting higher Barthel Index raw discharge scores, score increases, and score efficiencies. Conclusions: Early rehabilitation seems to be a relevant prognostic factor of functional outcome. Rehabilitation intervention in patients with SCI should begin as soon as possible, in a specialized setting, because delay may adversely affect functional recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-516
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation

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