There is some information about the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) score of patients with spinal cord injury (SCI), but there are a few publications dealing with the relationship between the FIM score and the motor score of the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA). We have studied the relationship of all FIM items with the motor score, and reviewed the disability of patients with spinal cord injury in greater detail. The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of impairment and disability in patients with SCI, using the FIM and motor score of the ASIA. The subjects were 100 inpatients with SCI (Frankel A, B). Neurological level, days from the onset, and the FIM were examined. In addition to these items, the ASIA motor scores were calculated for 22 tetraplegic patients. We investigated the relationships among these various respects. We also examined the changes of the physical items of the FIM score (physical FIM) over time for 18 patients. The mean FIM scores of those with tetraplegia with C4, C5, C6, C7, C8 lesions, and those with paraplegia with above T5 levels, and those below T6 were 35, 61, 82, 90, 116, 114 and 114 respectively. The FIM score reached the plateau in approximately 10 months, 6 months and 3 months post-injury, in tetraplegia, paraplegia above T5 and that below T6 respectively. The FIM scores in C6 patients were widely distributed from 56 to 104. On the other hand, the ASIA motor score could subdivide C6 patients and related well to the FIM score. The mean FIM scores for each neurological level were similar to those previously reported, thus they appeared to be plateau scores. With regard to the motor score, we feel that it could reflect the disability of the patients better than considering the neurological levels alone. Also considering the changes in the physical FIM score over time within a year from the onset of the injury, there were differences in the ADL improvement patterns among patients with different neurological levels. It appears that timing of the highest physical FIM improvement for each neurological level can exist. Thus it is important not to delay the start of the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injury in proper time.
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