Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Michelle LaBrecque


Spinal Cord Injuries -- rehabilitation; Spinal Cord Injuries -- therapy; Treatment Outcome; Case Reports


Background and Purpose: Spinal cord injury is damage sustained to any nervous tissue in the spinal cord that results in loss or decreased motor function or sensation. Every year in the United States there is about 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries with young Caucasian males' most prevalent. The purpose of this scholarly article is to analyze various factors to maximize functional outcomes and determine the proper course of treatment following a spinal cord injury.

Case Description: Patient was a right handed Caucasian female who was involved in a minor motor vehicle accident and sustained a C7-Tl fracture. Surgical intervention was done with a fusion of C6-Tl.

Intervention: The patient was seen six days/week for five weeks for one hour therapy sessions. Interventions implemented were all functionally based with the main focus of physical therapy being bed mobility, sitting balance, transfers, and self-directing care.

Outcomes: Outcome measurements were taken at every treatment session. This included determining the amount of assistance the patient required when performing functional activities.

Results: Patient was able to make significant gains in achieving more independence with functional activities. Without the limitations of the neck brace the patient would have been able to gain more functional independence during this episode of care. Patient was able to be discharged to her home after family members made the necessary changes to make the home wheelchair accessible and obtain 24 hr. care services.

Discussion: Interventions chosen along with patient's motivation level and participation in all therapy sessions maximized outcomes. Thus, a holistic approach and ongoing analysis/research is required to determine the best approach to maximize functional outcomes in patients with a complete cervical spinal cord injury.