Patterns of lower extremity innervation in pediatric spinal cord injury

T. E. Johnston, M. N. Greco, J. P. Gaughan, B. T. Smith, R. R. Betz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Study design: Retrospective review. Objectives: To identify relationships between lower extremity innervation and level of injury, mechanism of injury, and age at injury in a pediatric population with spinal cord injury (SCI). Secondarily, relationships between innervation and completeness of injury, time since injury, race, and sex were evaluated. Setting: Pediatric orthopedic referral hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Methods: Records of 190 subjects, ages 1-21 years, were reviewed. Data collected from the medical record included lower extremity muscle innervation, American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) level and class, mechanism of injury, age at injury, time since injury, race, and sex. To determine innervation, lower extremity muscles had been tested using surface electrical stimulation and identified as being innervated or denervated. If a muscle responded weakly, strength duration testing was performed. For analysis via logistic regression, subjects were grouped based upon level and mechanism of injury. Results: A relationship (P < 0.0001) was found between ASIA level and lower extremity innervation of all muscles and between length of time since injury and lower extremity innervation for some muscles. Following multiple logistic regression, only ASIA level remained as an independent predictor of lower extremity innervation status. Conclusion: Our results show that lower extremity innervation does differ based on the level of the injury. Denervation began to be seen with injuries in the lower thoracic region and more predominantly with injuries in the lumbar region. This supports our hypothesis that the incidence of lower motor neuron injuries would increase as injuries became more caudal. Our hypotheses of a relationship between innervation status and mechanism of injury and age at injury were not supported. This information is important in determining treatment strategies, eligibility for electrical stimulation techniques, and potential regenerative strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Denervation
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Innervation
  • Pediatrics
  • Spinal cord injury


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