Model System:


Reference Type:

Accession No.:


Top Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):

, 26, 4, 261-267


Objective: To investigate the relationship between blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and neurologic recovery after traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) using standardized outcome measures from the International Standards for the Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI) examination.

Method: This is a retrospective review of merged, prospectively collected, multicenter data from the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Database and institutional trauma databases from five academic medical centers across the United States. Patients with SCI and a documented BAC were analyzed for American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) motor score, FIM, sensory light touch score, and sensory proprioception score upon admission and discharge from rehabilitation. Linear regression was used for the analysis.

Results: The study identified 210 patients. Mean age at injury was 47 ± 20.5 years, 73% were male, 31% had an AIS grade A injury, 56% had ≥1 comorbidity, mean BAC was 0.42 ± 0.9 g/dL, and the mean Glasgow Coma Score upon arrival was 13.27 ± 4.0. ISNCSCI motor score gain positively correlated with higher BAC (4.80; confidence interval [CI], 2.39-7.22; p < .0001). FIM motor gain showed a trend toward correlation with higher BAC, although it did not reach statistical significance (3.27; CI, -0.07 to 6.61; p = .055). ISNCSCI sensory light touch score gain and sensory proprioception score gain showed no correlation with BAC (p = .44, p = .09, respectively).

Conclusion: The study showed a positive association between higher BAC and neurologic recovery in patients with SCI as measured by ISNCSCI motor score gain during rehabilitation. This finding has not been previously reported in the literature and warrants further study to better understand possible protective physiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between BAC and SCI.


Josephine Volovetz, Mary Joan Roach, Argyrios Stampas, Gregory Nemunaitis, Michael L Kelly