Antispasmodic medications may be associated with reduced recovery during inpatient rehabilitation after traumatic spinal cord injury

Eric R. Theriault, Vincent Huang, Gale Whiteneck, Marcel P. Dijkers, Noam Y. Harel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether antispasmodic medications are associated with neurological and functional outcomes during the first year after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Design/Methods: Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from six inpatient SCI rehabilitation centers. Baseline-adjusted outcomes at discharge and one-year follow-up were compared using analysis of covariance between patients who received antispasmodic medication on at least 5 days during inpatient rehabilitation and patients who did not. Outcome measures: Rasch-transformed motor subscore of the Functional Independence Measure (FIM); International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury motor scores, grade, and level. Results: Of 1,259 patients, 59.8%, 35.4%, and 4.8% were injured at the cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral levels, respectively. 65.6% had motor complete injury. Rasch-transformed motor FIM score at admission averaged 23.3 (95% confidence interval (CI) 22.4–24.2). Total motor score averaged 39.2 (95% CI 37.8–40.6). 685 patients (54.4%) received one or more antispasmodic medications on at least 5 days. After controlling for demographic and injury variables at admission, Rasch-transformed motor FIM scores at discharge were significantly lower (P = 0.018) in patients receiving antispasmodic medications than in those who did not. This trend persisted in secondary analyses for cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral subgroups. Multivariate regression showed that receiving antispasmodic medication significantly contributed to discharge motor FIM outcome. At one-year follow-up, no outcomes significantly differed between patients ON or OFF antispasmodics. Conclusions: Antispasmodic medications may be associated with decreased functional recovery at discharge from inpatient traumatic SCI rehabilitation. Randomized prospective studies are needed to directly evaluate the effects of antispasmodic medication on recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Muscle relaxants
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries


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