Walking ability at discharge from inpatient rehabilitation in a cohort of non-traumatic spinal cord injury patients Academic Article uri icon


  • STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, observational study. OBJECTIVES: To determine the proportion of patients with non-traumatic spinal cord injury (NTSCI) who regain the ability to walk and to describe walking outcomes with reference to three commonly used clinical measures of walking capacity. SETTING: Spinal Rehabilitation Unit specializing in NTSCI, Melbourne, Australia. METHODS: Demographic, clinical and mobility data collected from a consecutive cohort of patients admitted to the spinal rehabilitation unit between March 2006 and December 2007. Main outcome measures were the Timed Up And Go (TUG), the 10-m walk test (10 mWT) and the 6-min walk test (6MWT). Logistic regression analysis was conducted to explore predictors of walking ability after NTSCI. RESULTS: Of 62 patients, 30 (48%) regained some capacity to walk during inpatient rehabilitation. Initial ASIA grade was the strongest predictor of walking. Twenty-seven patients regained the ability to perform functional tests (TUG, 10 mWT and 6MWT) of walking at approximately 2 months after injury. Their performance at discharge remained low compared with normal scores but were similar to those measured in some studies of subjects with traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI). CONCLUSION: Three simple clinical tests of walking suggest that half of all NTSCI patients are able to walk at discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. Their gait speed, however, remained impaired and not compatible with safe and efficient community walking.

publication date

  • October 2009

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