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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2012 Nov-Dec;26(9):1064-71. doi: 10.1177/1545968312447306. Epub 2012 May 30.

Relationship between motor recovery and independence after sensorimotor-complete cervical spinal cord injury.

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International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries (ICORD), University of British Columbia, and Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, BC, Canada.



For therapeutics directed to the injured spinal cord, a change in neurological impairment has been proposed as a relevant acute clinical study end point. However, changes in neurological function, even if statistically significant, may not be associated with a functional impact, such as a meaningful improvement in items within the self-care subscore of the Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM).


The authors examined the functional significance associated with spontaneously recovering upper-extremity motor function after sensorimotor-complete cervical spinal cord injury (SCI).


Using the European Multi-center Study about Spinal Cord Injury (EMSCI) data set, a retrospective analysis was undertaken of individuals with cervical sensorimotor-complete SCI (initial motor level, C4-C7). Specifically, changes in upper-extremity motor score (UEMS), motor level, and SCIM (total and self-care subscore) were assessed between approximately 1 and 48 weeks after injury (n = 74).


The initial motor level did not significantly influence the total UEMS recovered or number of motor levels recovered. SCIM self-care subscore recovery was significantly greater for those individuals regaining 2 motor levels compared with those recovering only 1 or no motor levels. However, the recovery in the SCIM self-care subscore was not significantly different between individuals recovering only 1 motor level and those individuals who showed no motor-level improvement.


A 2 motor-level improvement indicates a clinically meaningful change and might be considered a primary outcome in acute and subacute interventional trials enrolling individuals with cervical sensorimotor-complete SCI.

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