A functional strategy for classifying patients after traumatic spinal cord injury

M. G. Stineman*, R. J. Marino, A. Deutsch, C. V. Granger, G. Maislin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: To present a function-based strategy for classifying patients by expected functional outcomes measured as patients' performances at discharge on each of the 18 component items of the FIM(TM) instrument (previously known as the Functional Independence Measure). Methods: Data included records from 3604 inpatients with traumatic spinal cord injury discharged from 358 rehabilitation units or hospitals in 1995. The function-based strategy assigned patients to four Discharge Motor-FIM-Function Related Groups defined by patients' admission performance on the motor-FIM items. Results: The majority of patients whose motor-FIM scores at admission were above 30 were able to groom, dress the upper body, manage bladder function, use a wheelchair, and transfer from bed to chair, either independently or with supervision, by the time of discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. Most patients whose scores were above 52 attained independence in all but the most difficult FIM tasks, such as bathing, tub transfers, and stair climbing. Conclusions: This classification scheme can be used to determine the degree to which patients' actual FIM outcomes compare to other individuals who had similar levels of disabilities at the time of admission to rehabilitation. The clinician can apply these 'FIM item attainment benchmarks' retrospectively in quality improvement, in guideline development, and in anticipating the types of post-discharge care required by clinically similar groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-725
Number of pages9
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1999


  • Activities of daily living
  • Outcome assessment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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