The Effect of Physiatry Involvement for Patients with Acute Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury at a Level 1 Trauma Center

Brett M. Tracy*, Erin Hoover, Nikki Jones, Mark J. Hinrichs, Rondi B. Gelbard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore the impact of physiatry on acute traumatic spinal cord injury (ATSCI) outcomes using a propensity score matching (PSM) analysis. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all patients with ATSCI at a level 1 trauma center from 2018 to 2019. In a 1:1 fashion, we matched patients who were evaluated by physiatry to those who were not. Our PSM analysis controlled for patient demographics, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, Injury Severity Score (ISS), comorbidities, mechanism, and presence of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Outcomes included complications, discharge disposition, and 30-day mortality. Survival analysis was performed using Kaplan-Meier plots. Results: A total of 102 patients (physiatry 51; no physiatry 51) were matched. Median age was 38 (28-55) years, and median ISS was 25.5 (17-35); 82.4% (n = 84) were male, and 77.5% (n = 79) were bluntly injured. Rates of in-hospital complications were similar between groups. Physiatry involvement was associated with increased odds of discharge to inpatient rehabilitation (odds ratio, 4.6; 95% CI, 2-11.6; p 001). There was a significant survival benefit seen with physiatry involvement at 30 days (92.6% vs. 78.6%, p = .004) that correlated with a decreased risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.03-0.7; p = .01). Conclusion: Incorporating physiatry into the management of patients with ATSCI is associated with improved survival and greater odds of discharge to rehabilitation. In this population, physiatry should be incorporated into the trauma care team to optimize patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalTopics in spinal cord injury rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • acute traumatic spinal cord injury
  • mortality
  • propensity score matching
  • rehabilitation
  • trauma surgery


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