Racial and ethnic disparities in functioning at discharge and follow-up among patients with motor complete spinal cord injury

Denise C. Fyffe, Anne Deutsch, Amanda L. Botticello, Steven Kirshblum, Kenneth J. Ottenbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Objective To examine racial and ethnic differences in self-care and mobility outcomes for persons with a motor complete, traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) at discharge and 1-year follow-up.

Design Retrospective cohort study.

Setting Sixteen rehabilitation centers contributing to the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) database.

Participantsg Adults with traumatic, motor complete SCI (N=1766; American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade A or B) enrolled in the SCIMS between 2000 and 2011. Selected cases had complete self-reported data on race and ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, or Hispanic) and motor FIM scores assessed at inpatient rehabilitation admission, discharge, and 1-year follow-up.

Interventions Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measures Functional outcomes were measured by FIM self-care and mobility scores on a 1 to 7 FIM scale, at discharge and 1-year follow-up.

Results Multiple regression models stratified by neurologic category and adjusted for sociodemographic and injury characteristics assessed racial and ethnic group differences in FIM self-care and mobility change scores at discharge and 1-year follow-up. At discharge, non-Hispanic black participants with tetraplegia and paraplegia had significantly poorer gains in FIM self-care and mobility scores relative to non-Hispanic white and Hispanic participants. At 1-year follow-up, similar FIM self-care and mobility change scores were found across racial and ethnic groups within each neurologic category.

Conclusions Non-Hispanic white and Hispanic participants had comparatively more improvement in self-care and mobility during inpatient rehabilitation compared with non-Hispanic black participants. At 1-year follow-up, no differences in self-care and mobility outcomes were observed across racial and ethnic groups. Additional research is needed to identify potential modifiable factors that may contribute to racially and ethnically different patterns of functional outcomes observed during inpatient rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2140-2151
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014



  • Activities of daily living
  • Health status disparities
  • Motor activity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

Cite this