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Joseph M. Piepmeier and N. Ross Jenkins

✓ Sixty-nine patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries were evaluated for changes in their functional neurological status at discharge from the hospital, and at 1 year, 3 years, and 5+ years following injury. The neurological examinations were used to classify patients' spinal cord injury according to the Frankel scale. This analysis revealed that the majority of improvement in neurological function occurred within the 1st year following injury; however, changes in the patients' status continued for many years. Follow-up examinations at an average of 3 years postinjury revealed that 23.3% of the patients continued to improve, whereas 7.1% had deteriorated compared to their status at 1 year. An examination at an average of 5+ years demonstrated further improvement in 12.5%, with 5.0% showing deterioration compared to the examinations at 3 years. These results demonstrate that, in patients with spinal trauma, significant changes in neurological function continue for many years.

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J. Adair Prall, John D. Davis and N. Ross Jenkins