The traditional way to predict whether children can regain movement after spinal cord injuries may exclude a small subset of patients who could benefit from therapy, according to two studies presented by University of Florida researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this week in San Diego.
In one study, researchers present details of a child with incomplete spinal cord injury who continues to improve four years after recovering walking ability in a locomotor training program at UF, even though clinical assessment tools predicted he would never walk again.
In another presentation, the scientists discussed findings in which three of six children with severe, chronic and incomplete spinal cord injuries patients who retain some sensation or movement below the injury improved through locomotor training, to the point where they could take steps. Even the three who did not regain stepping ability acquired greater trunk control.
The research was part of the Kids Step Study conducted at UF and Brooks Rehabilitation and led by Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., PT, an associate professor of physical therapy in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, and Dena Howland, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience with the College of Medicine. Both also are affiliated with the McKnight Brain Institute and the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
"The prevailing clinical view is patients who are able to recover need to display early leg movement," said Howland. "The children in our studies displayed minimal or no movement, yet some were still able to make significant improvement."
One study participant was a 4 ∏-year old boy who received a disabling cervical spinal cord injury at the age of 3∏. Before he began in the locomotor training program, a clinical measure known as the lower extremity motor score predicted he would not recover walking. He had not walked for the 16 months since his injur
|Contact: John Pastor|
University of Florida