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Spinal Cord. 2013 Nov;51(11):819-22. doi: 10.1038/sc.2013.90. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

The potential for functional recovery of upper extremity function following cervical spinal cord injury without major bone injury.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Japan Labour Health and Welfare Organization, Spinal Injuries Center, Fukuoka, Japan.



This was a retrospective observational study.


The objectives were to describe the prognosis of upper extremity function following cervical spinal cord injury (CSCI), and to identify prognostic factors for functional recovery.


Spinal Injuries Center, Japan.


Sixty patients with C3-4 CSCI without major bone injury participated in the study. Patients were treated nonsurgically and evaluated using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scales for the upper and lower extremities, their residual cervical motor functions, the modified Frankel grade and an upper extremity function scale. We compared the findings for the upper extremity function scale at 6 months with those for the residual cervical motor functions and modified Frankel grade obtained 3 days after injury.


Most patients with CSCI who could flex their hip and knee from a supine position (95%) or who showed some active elbow extension (86%) 3 days after their injury could use a spoon at 6 months. We compared patients who used their fingers at 6 months to those who could not, and observed significant differences in age and ASIA scores for the upper and lower extremities obtained 3 days after injury. A strong correlation was observed between the initial motor scores and the extent of functional recovery at 6 months.


Hip and knee flexion from the supine position and elbow extension 3 days after injury significantly predicted a positive prognosis for upper extremity function. Younger age and higher ASIA motor scores obtained 3 days after injury were factors associated with neurological recovery.

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