Valid outcome assessment tools specific for spinal trauma patients are necessary to establish the efficacy of different treatment options. So far, no validated specific outcome measures are available for this patient population. The purpose of this study was to assess the current state of outcome measurement in spinal trauma patients and to address the question of whether this group is adequately served by current disease-specific and generic health-related quality-of-life instruments.
A number of widely used outcome measures deemed most appropriate were reviewed, and their applicability to spinal trauma outcome discussed. An overview of recent movements in the theoretical foundations of outcome assessment, as it pertains to spinal trauma patients has been attempted, along with a discussion of domains important for spinal trauma.
Commonly used outcome measures that are recommended for use in trauma patients were reviewed from the perspective of spinal trauma. The authors further sought to select a number of spine trauma–relevant domains from the WHO's comprehensive International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a benchmark for assessing the content coverage of the commonly used outcome measurements reviewed.
The study showed that there are no psychometrically validated outcome measurements for the spinal trauma population and there are no commonly used outcome measures that provide adequate content coverage for spinal trauma domains.
Spinal trauma patients are currently followed either as a subset of the polytrauma population in the acute and early postacute setting or as a subset of neurological injury in the long-term revalidation medicine setting.