Assessing functional recovery for individuals with spinal cord injury post-discharge from inpatient rehabilitation

Shivayogi V. Hiremath, Ralph J. Marino, Donna L. Coffman, Amol M. Karmarkar, Carole A. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the associations between trauma variables, acute phase-related variables, and patient-level characteristics with functional recovery during the first-year post-discharge from inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF) for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Retrospective cohort analysis. Setting: Two SCI Model Centers in Pennsylvania, United States. Methods: We were able to link 378 individuals with traumatic SCI between the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Outcomes Study and the National SCI Model Systems databases. Nineteen individuals with SCI were excluded due to missing data. We estimated functional recovery based on changes in functional independence measure (FIM) total motor score during the first-year post-discharge from IRF in 359 individuals with SCI, who did not have any missing data, using ordinary least squares regression (OLS). Results: After discharge from IRF the majority of individuals with SCI improved over the first-year post-injury. Individuals with cervical A-C (injury severity group) who were older had a slight decrease in motor FIM at 1-year post-injury. Regression analysis indicated that lower functional recovery was associated with being of Black and Hispanic race and ethnicity, higher injury severity group, occurrence of non-pulmonary infection during acute care, and longer length of stay at IRF (R 2 = 0.36). Conclusions: Patient-level characteristics, trauma variables, and acute phase-related variables were associated with functional recovery post-discharge from IRF. Further research is necessary to collect and assess post-rehabilitation and socio-economic factors that play a critical role in continued functional recovery in the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Acute care
  • Functional status
  • Inpatient rehabilitation
  • Linking
  • Traumatic spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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