Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW This article provides an update on the acute and subacute management and prognostication of patients with traumatic spinal cord injury. RECENT FINDINGS Immobilization of the spine and spine clearance should be individualized depending on the ability to perform a reliable neurologic examination, the presence of neck pain, and the imaging findings. Early surgery (within 24 hours) to achieve definitive cord decompression and spine stabilization may be beneficial. Ensuring adequate oxygenation and perfusion and avoiding secondary systemic complications remain the goals of the critical care of these patients. No neuroprotective treatment has been shown to improve outcomes. In fact, the use of high-dose methylprednisolone is now generally discouraged because of its major systemic adverse effects. Survivors of severe cervical traumatic spinal cord injury typically sustain substantial long-term functional impairment. Advances in our understanding of neuroregenerative strategies, especially stem cell transplantation, can offer the future hope of functional improvement to the many patients currently living with the consequences of traumatic spinal cord injury. Yet, at present, these therapies remain strictly investigational. SUMMARY The treatment of traumatic spinal cord injury remains supportive, and prognosis is still poor for patients who are severely affected. While much remains to be learned about how to optimize the acute management of these patients, future efforts would be most useful if focused on injury prevention and the development of effective neuroregenerative therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-566
Number of pages16
JournalCONTINUUM Lifelong Learning in Neurology
Issue number2, Spinal Cord Disorders
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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