Advances in the rehabilitation management of acute spinal cord injury

John F. Ditunno, Diana D. Cardenas, Christopher Formal, Kevin Dalal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aggressive assessment and management of the secondary complications in the hours and days following spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to restoration of function in patients through intervention by a team of rehabilitation professionals. The recent certification of SCI physicians, newly validated assessments of impairment and function measures, and international databases agreed upon by SCI experts should lead to documentation of improved rehabilitation care. This chapter highlights recent advances in assessment and treatment based on evidence-based classification of literature reviews and expert opinion in the acute phase of SCI. A number of these reviews are the product of the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine, which offers clinical practice guidelines for healthcare professionals. Recognition of and early intervention for problems such as bradycardia, orthostatic hypotension, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism, and early ventilatory failure will be addressed although other chapters may discuss some issues in greater detail. Early assessment and intervention for neurogenic bladder and bowel function has proven effective in the prevention of renal failure and uncontrolled incontinence. Attention to overuse and disuse with training and advanced technology such as functional electrical stimulation have reduced pain and disability associated with upper extremity deterioration and improved physical fitness. Topics such as chronic pain, spasticity, sexual dysfunction, and pressure sores will be covered in more detail in additional chapters. However, the comprehensive and integrated rehabilitation by specialized SCI teams of physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, and psychologists immediately following SCI has become the standard of care throughout the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
JournalHandbook of Clinical Neurology
StatePublished - Oct 29 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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