Spinal Cord Injury–Functional Index/Capacity: Responsiveness to Change Over Time

Pamela A. Kisala*, Aaron J. Boulton, Mary D. Slavin, Matthew L. Cohen, Tamra Keeney, Pengsheng Ni, Denise Tate, Allen W. Heinemann, Susan Charlifue, Denise C. Fyffe, Elizabeth R. Felix, Alan M. Jette, David S. Tulsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To establish responsiveness of 3 Spinal Cord Injury–Functional Index/Capacity (SCI-FI/C) item banks in the first year after spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Longitudinal patient-reported outcomes assessment replicated through secondary analysis of an independent data set. Setting: A total of 8 SCI Model Systems rehabilitation hospitals in the United States. Participants: Study 1 participants included 184 adults with recent (≤4 months) traumatic SCI and 221 community-dwelling adults (>1 year post injury) (N=405). Study 2 participants were 418 individuals with recent SCI (≤4 months) (N=418). Interventions: In study 1, SCI-FI/C computer adaptive tests were presented in a standardized interview format either in person or by phone call at baseline and 6-month follow-up. Responsiveness was examined by comparing 6-month changes in SCI-FI scores within and across samples (recently injured vs community-dwelling) because only the recent injury sample was expected to exhibit change over time. Effect sizes were also computed. In study 2, the study 1 results were cross-validated in a second sample with recent SCI 1 year after baseline measurement. Study 2 also compared the SCI-FI/C measures’ responsiveness to that of the Self-reported Functional Measure (SRFM) and stratified results by injury diagnosis and completeness. Main Outcome Measures: The SCI-FI Basic Mobility/C, Self-care/C and Fine Motor/C item banks (study 1 and study 2); Self-reported Functional Measure SRFM (study 2 only). Results: In study 1, changes in SCI-FI/C scores between baseline and 6-month follow-up were statistically significant (P<.01) for recently injured individuals. SCI-FI Basic Mobility/C, Self-care/C, and Fine Motor/C item banks demonstrated small to medium effect sizes in the recently injured sample. In the community-dwelling sample, all SCI-FI/C effects were negligible (ie, effect size<0.08). Study 2 results were similar to study 1. As expected, SCI-FI Basic Mobility/C and Self-care/C were responsive to change for all individuals in study 2, whereas the SCI-FI Fine Motor/C was responsive only for individuals with tetraplegia and incomplete paraplegia. The SRFM demonstrated a medium effect size for responsiveness (effect size=0.65). Conclusions: The SCI-FI Basic Mobility/C and Self-care/C banks demonstrate adequate sensitivity to change at 6 months and 1 year for all individuals with SCI, while the SCI-FI/C Fine Motor item bank is sensitive to change in individuals with tetraplegia or incomplete paraplegia. All SCI-FI/C banks demonstrate stability in a sample not expected to change. Results provide support for the use of these measures for research or clinical use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Outcomes assessment (health care)
  • Patient reported outcome measure
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of life
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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