Trajectory-Based Classification of Recovery in Sensorimotor Complete Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury.


To test the hypothesis that sensorimotor complete traumatic cervical spinal cord injury is a heterogenous clinical entity comprising several subpopulations that follow fundamentally different trajectories of neurologic recovery. We analyzed demographic and injury data from 655 patients who were pooled from 4 prospective longitudinal multicenter studies. Group based trajectory modeling was applied to model neurologic recovery trajectories over the initial 12-months postinjury and to identify predictors of recovery trajectories. Neurologic outcomes included: Upper Extremity Motor Score, Total Motor Scores and AIS grade improvement. The analysis identified 3 distinct trajectories of neurologic recovery. These clinical courses included: (1) Marginal recovery trajectory: characterized by minimal or no improvement in motor strength or change in AIS grade status (remained grade A); (2) Moderate recovery trajectory: characterized by low baseline motor scores that improved approximately 13 points; or AIS conversion of one grade point; (3) Good recovery trajectory: characterized by baseline motor scores in the upper quartile that improved to near maximum values within 3 months of injury. Patients following the moderate or good recovery trajectories were of younger age, had more caudally located injuries, a higher degree of preserved motor and sensory function at baseline examination and exhibited a greater extent of motor and sensory function in the zone of partial preservation. Cervical complete SCI can be classified into one of 3 distinct subpopulations with fundamentally different trajectories of neurologic recovery. This study defines unique clinical phenotypes based on potential for recovery, rather than baseline severity of injury alone. This approach may prove beneficial in clinical prognostication and in the design and interpretation of clinical trials in SCI.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Jaja, Blessing NR, Jetan Badhiwala, James Guest, James Harrop, Chris Shaffrey, Max Boakye, Shekar Kurpad, Robert Grossman, et al. (2021). Trajectory-Based Classification of Recovery in Sensorimotor Complete Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury. Neurology, 96(22). p. 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012028. 10.1212/wnl.0000000000012028 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.