COSMIN database

Assessment of disability in patients with acute traumatic spinal cord injury: a systematic review of the literature

Furlan, J. C., Noonan, V., Singh, A., and Fehlings, M. G.
Given the importance of accurately and reliably assessing disability in future clinical trials, which will test therapeutic strategies in acute spinal cord injury (SCI), we sought to appraise comprehensively studies that focused on the psychometric properties (i.e., reliability, validity, and responsiveness) of all previously used outcome measures in the SCI population. The search strategy included Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases. Two reviewers independently assessed each study regarding eligibility, level of evidence (using Sackett's criteria), and quality. Of 363 abstracts captured in our search, 36 full articles fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Eight different outcome measures were used to assess disability in the SCI population, including Functional Independence Measure (FIM), Spinal cord Injury Measure (SCIM), Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI), Quadriplegia Index of Function (QIF), Modified Barthel Index (MBI), Timed Up & Go (TUG), 6-min walk test (6MWT), and 10-m walk test (10MWT). While 19 of 36 studies provided level-4 evidence, the remaining 17 articles were classified as level-2b evidence. Most of the instruments showed convergent construct validity in the SCI population, but criterion validity was not examined due to the lack a gold standard for assessment of disability. All instruments were tested in the rehabilitation and/or community setting, but only FIM was examined in the acute care setting. Based on our results of quality assessment, the SCIM has the most appropriate performance regarding the instrument's psychometric properties. Nonetheless, further investigations are required to confirm the adequate performance of the SCIM as a comprehensive measure of functional recovery in patients with SCI in rehabilitative care. The expert panel of the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions Network (SCISN) that participated in the modified Delphi process endorsed these conclusions.
J Neurotrauma
1557-9042 (Electronic)
Publication year:
Symptom status:
Physical state
Adults (18-65)
Children (0-18)
Seniors (65+)
Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes
PRO / non-PRO:
Non-patient Reported Outcome
Type of measurement instrument:
1 - Questionnaires
4 - Performance-based tests
6 - Clinical rating scales
7 - Observations
10MWT - 10 Meter Walk Test   
6MWT - 6-Minute Walk Test    | 
FIM - Functional Independence Measure (Also modified version exists)
MBI - Modified Barthel Index
QIF - Quadriplegia Index of Function
SCIM - Spinal Cord Independence Measure
TUG - Timed Up and Go test   
WISCI - Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury