The Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI/WISCI II): Nature, metric properties, use and misuse

J. F. Ditunno, P. L. Ditunno, G. Scivoletto, M. Patrick, M. Dijkers, H. Barbeau, A. S. Burns, R. J. Marino, M. Schmidt-Read

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Study design:Literature review.Objective:To critically review all publications/internet sites that have described/used the Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI II), as a measure of impairment of walking function after spinal cord injury (SCI), in order to identify its psychometric properties, clarify its nature, specify misuse and incorporate the findings in an updated guide.Method:A systematic literature search was done of Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Scopus and electronic sites using key words: WISCI or WISCI II, SCI, paraplegia/ tetraplegia/quadriplegia and ambulation/gait/walking. Among 1235 citations retrieved, 154 relevant articles/sites were identified, classified and examined by the authors; recommendations were made based on findings.Results and Discussion:The validity (face/concurrent/content/construct/convergent/criterion) and reliability of the WISCI II has been documented in clinical trials and clinical series, and considered adequate by systematic reviewers. In chronic SCI subjects, reliable determination of the maximum (as opposed to self-selected) WISCI II level requires more time and experience by the assessor. The correct use of WISCI II is clarified for testing acute/chronic phases of recovery after SCI, age of subjects, devices and settings. The WISCI II and walking speed measures may be performed simultaneously.Conclusion:The increased use of the WISCI II is attributed to its unique characteristics as a capacity measure of walking function and its strong metric properties. Appropriate use of the WISCI II was clarified and incorporated into a new guide for its use. Combining it with a walking speed measure needs further study.Sponsorship:This study was supported in part by grant #H133N000023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), and US Department of Education, Washington, DC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-355
Number of pages10
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • functional capacity scale
  • outcome measure
  • spinal cord injury
  • walking function


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