Inflammatory myelopathies and traumatic spinal cord lesions: Comparison of functional and neurological outcomes

Giorgio Scivoletto, Elena Cosentino, Alessia Mammone, Marco Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: Outcomes knowledge is essential to answer patients' questions regarding function, to plan the use of resources, and to evaluate treatments to enhance recovery. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes of patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) with those of patients with inflammatory spinal cord lesions (ISCLs). Subjects and Methods: The authors evaluated 181 subjects with traumatic SCI and 67 subjects with ISCLs. Using a matching cohorts procedure, 38 subjects were selected from each group. The measures used were the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (motor function), the Barthel Index (BI), the Rivermead Mobility Index (RMI), and the Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI). Results: The subjects in the ISCL group were older than those in the SCI group, with a longer interval from onset of lesion to rehabilitation admission and more incomplete lesions. In the matching cohorts, at admission, the traumatic SCI group had RMI and WISCI scores comparable to those of the ISCL group, but the traumatic SCI group had lower scores on the BI (greater dependence on assistance for activities of daily living). At discharge, the 2 groups had comparable functional outcomes. The neurological status of the 2 groups was comparable at admission and discharge. Discussion and Conclusion: The results indicate that, at admission, patients with SCI have a greater physical dependence for assistance with activities of daily living than patients with ISCLs who have comparable neurological status. Such a difference depends on factors not related to the spinal cord lesion, such as the presence of associated lesions, the need to wear an orthotic device, or the sequelae of surgery. The outcomes of patients with SCI are determined more by factors such as lesion level and severity and age than by etiology. This finding could have implications for health care planning and rehabilitation research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-484
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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