University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Pediatric Spinal Cord Injury


Osorio M, Reyes MR, Massagli TL



Publication Info:

Current Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Reports, 2(3):158-168


Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs much less commonly in children than adults. Children can also experience spinal cord dysfunction from birth injuries, skeletal dysplasias, neoplasms, infections, and autoimmune causes. There are special considerations for determining the level and completeness of injury in children under 6 years of age. Children with SCI experience some unique secondary complications such as scoliosis, and other complications such as autonomic dysreflexia require modifications in management due to pediatric physiology. The rehabilitation of children with SCI typically includes compensatory strategies and exercise, and new methods of exercise including functional electrical stimulation and activity-based locomotor training are being researched for efficacy in restoration of function. Studies of psychosocial health of children with SCI highlight the importance of peer interactions and participation in activities outside the home. Practitioners also need to be mindful of the stress an injury places on siblings, parents, and other caregivers.

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