The overlooked outcome measure for spinal cord injury: Use of assistive devices

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Although several outcome measures are used to assess various areas of interest regarding spinal cord injuries (SCIs), little is known about the frequency of their use, and the ways in which they transform shared knowledge into implemented practices. Herein, 800 professionals from the International Spinal Cord Society, especially trained for caring in patients with SCI, were invited to respond to an Internet survey collecting information on the use of standardized measures in daily clinical practices. We asked both clinicians and researchers with different areas of interest about their use of functional outcome measures, and, in particular, which scales they habitually use to assess various aspects of clinical practice and rehabilitation. We selected a set of rating scales, which were validated for measuring SCIs ( The results show that the areas of interest assessed by most of the participants were neurological status, upper limb, lower limb gait, pain, spasticity, self-care, and daily living. The most widely used rating scales were the spinal cord independence measure, the functional independence measure and the International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury. Instead, the majority of respondents did not evaluate the use of assistive technology. Despite the availability of several outcome scales, the practice of evaluating SCIs with standardized measures for assistive technologies and wheelchair mobility is still not widespread, even though it is a high priority in the rehabilitation of SCI patients. The results emphasize the need for a more thorough knowledge and use of outcome scales, thus improving the quality of assistive device evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number272
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Embodiment
  • Outcome measures
  • Rehabilitative tools
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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