A prospectively maintained database-generated retrospective review and cross-sectional outcome analysis was performed at a single academic center.

To assess the improvement in ASIA motor score (AMS) and secondarily to assess generic health related quality of life (HRQoL) and functional status; correlating these with variables that may predict outcome.

Many variables are potential contributors to motor recovery, patient function, and outcome following cervical trauma. Studies often suffer from low power, short follow-up, heterogeneous cohorts, and use of outcome instruments that are neither valid nor psychometrically sound.

AMS were collected within 72 hours of the time of injury and again at follow-up by trained examiners. The SF-36 and FIM were administered to all patients at follow-up.

AMS improved from a mean of 58.7 at injury to a mean of 92.3 at follow-up. Bowel and bladder continence was reported by 81% while independent ambulation was reported by 86%. Final AMS was positively correlated with the AMS at injury, formal education, and presence of spasticity at follow-up. Functional status (FIM) was positively correlated with higher AMS at injury, formal education, absence of comorbidities, absence of spasticity, and younger age. Generic HRQoL outcomes (SF-36) were improved in individuals with more formal education, fewer comorbidities, absence of spasticity, and anterior column fractures.

Although the majority of patients improve to an AMS between 90 and 100, many have significant disability and are less functional than the general population. Significant predictive variables include the initial motor score, formal education, comorbidities, age at injury, and development of spasticity. An assessment of more than just the motor score is required to obtain an appreciation of the function and outcomes in this population.

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