Description of sensory preservation in children and adolescents with incomplete spinal cord injury

Randal R. Betz, Ross S. Chafetz, Lawrence C. Vogel, Amer F. Samdani, Mary Jane Mulcahey

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2 Scopus citations


Background/objective: This cross-sectional, multicenter cohort study describes patterns of preserved sensation in persons with American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) B (sensory incomplete, or SI) and AIS C/D (motor incomplete, or MI). Methods: A total of 93 subjects with incomplete spinal injuries (58 with tetraplegia and 35 with paraplegia) were included for analysis. Sensation was based on the International Standards for Neurological Classification of SCI (ISNCSCI). Results: In the 44 subjects with AIS B (SI), some light touch (LT) was present in 35% of dermatomes below the neurological level and pin prick (PP) in 8%. In contrast, in the 49 subjects with AIS C/D (MI), LT was present in 77% of dermatomes and PP in 27%. AIS C/D (MI) subjects with tetraplegia had more dermatomes with preserved sensation than those with paraplegia. When reviewing areas at highest risk for pressure sores, only 4 of 22 (19%) of subjects with AIS B (SI)/tetraplegia had any preserved LT or PP sensation in the periscapular region (dermatomes T1-T6). In the buttocks region (S3 and S4-S5), sensation was preserved in fewer than 50% of patients with either tetraplegia or paraplegia. Conclusions: (1) Sensory sparing below the neurologic injury was found to be surprisingly sparse in patients classified as AIS B (SI) (35% LT and 8% PP). Sparing was considerably better in patients who were AIS C/D (MI) (77% LT and 27% PP). (2) Preserved sensation in the periscapular region was very low in subjects with tetraplegia (19%) and was also low in the buttocks, with fewer than half of those classified as AIS B (SI) with either tetraplegia or paraplegia reporting sensation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-300
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Incomplete spinal cord injury
  • Light touch
  • Pin prick
  • Sensory preservation


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