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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 Jan;83(1):22-6.

Effect of co-morbid traumatic brain injury on functional outcome of persons with spinal cord injuries.

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Neuropsychology Division, Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road, Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA.



This study was undertaken to determine if persons who sustain a spinal cord injury (SCI) and co-morbid brain injury (dual diagnosis [DDS]) evidence smaller functional gains and experience significantly longer rehabilitation lengths of stay than persons with only an SCI.


This retrospective comparison study was performed at a 100-bed rehabilitation hospital specializing in acute SCI and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. Summary scale outcome data of persons who sustained an SCI were compared with outcome data of a group of persons with a DDS. Comparisons were established by matching groups principally on level of SCI and admission Motor FIM trade mark score and secondarily on education, sex, and age. Outcome measures included admission Motor and Cognitive FIM score, discharge Motor and Cognitive FIM score, Motor and Cognitive FIM change, length of stay, and rehabilitation charges.


Persons with a DDS evidenced a significantly more impaired Cognitive FIM score at admission and discharge from rehabilitation. Persons with a DDS also achieved a significantly lower Motor FIM change than persons with SCI. There were no significant differences between DDS and SCI groups regarding Cognitive FIM change, length of stay, or rehabilitation charges. Injury severity as defined by the Glasgow Coma Scale or intracranial lesions did not predict response to treatment in the DDS group.


Persons with a DDS achieved smaller functional gains during rehabilitation than peers with SCI. Brain injuries seem to limit functional gains, although the relationship between brain injury severity and functional change is not linear. Prospective studies are needed to identify factors limiting functional gains in rehabilitation and assist in developing specific treatment programs for persons with SCI and brain injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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