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J Rehabil Med. 2012 Jun;44(7):534-40. doi: 10.2340/16501977-1005.

Evaluation of functional outcomes of physical rehabilitation and medical complications in spinal cord injury victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.



To characterize a spinal cord injury (SCI) population from the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China; to evaluate functional outcomes of physical rehabilitation interventions; to assess potential determinants of rehabilitation effectiveness; and to assess medical complications and management outcomes.


A total of 51 earthquake victims with SCI were enrolled and underwent rehabilitation programming. Functional rehabilitation outcomes included ambulation ability, wheelchair mobility and activities of daily living (ADL) assessed with the Modified Barthel Index at the beginning and end of rehabilitation. Effectiveness of rehabilitation and the effect of other predictors were evaluated by mixed effects regression. Outcomes of medical complication management were determined by comparison of the incidence of respective complications at the beginning and end of rehabilitation.


Ambulation, wheelchair mobility and ADL were significantly improved with rehabilitation programming. Both earlier rescue and earlier onset of rehabilitation were significant positive predictors of rehabilitation effectiveness, whereas delayed onset of rehabilitation combined with prolonged time to rescue resulted in a lesser positive effect. Medical complications were managed effectively in 63% (pressure ulcers) to 85% (deep vein thrombosis) of patients during rehabilitation.


Earthquake victims with SCI may achieve significantly improved functional rehabilitation functional outcomes on a formal, institutional-based physical rehabilitation programme.

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