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J Neurol Phys Ther. 2008 Sep;32(3):129-38. doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e3181838291.

Beyond gait speed: a case report of a multidimensional approach to locomotor rehabilitation outcomes in incomplete spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, NF/SG Veterans Health System, Gainesville, Florida, USA.



The efficacy of locomotor rehabilitation studies has largely been based on clinical measures of gait speed and walking performance. Although critical, gait speed does not fully capture the multidimensional benefits associated with walking recovery. The International Classification of Function, Disability and Health (ICF) model of rehabilitation emphasizes the role of personal and environmental factors in affecting quality of life and personal health status and advocates a broad approach in the assessment and treatment of people with disabling conditions.


The purpose of this case report is to describe a multidimensional approach to outcome measurement reflecting the ICF model.


The participant was a 59-year-old man with C7 American Spinal Injury Association impairment D tetraplegia, 16 months after injury.


The participant completed a 45-session, five days per week locomotor training program. Comprehensive evaluations were completed pre- and post-training targeting all elements of the ICF model.


The participant achieved negligible increases in gait speed, but increased self-elected walking activity from 26 steps per day to 1273 steps per day. His assistive device changed from a platform to a rolling walker, representing a Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI) increase from 8/20 to 13/20. Qualitative interviews illustrated an attitudinal shift, leading to improved motivation, confidence, self-esteem, problem-solving, and increased activities/participation in the community. Ultimately, the participant was able to transition from nursing home placement to living independently.


This case report emphasizes the need to move beyond traditional models for evaluation at the impairment and clinical level to examine the effects of interventions on independence, community integration, and quality of life.

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