The Role of Recreational Therapy and Allied Therapies in Rehabilitation after Spinal Cord Injury


  • Melissa Zahl University of Utah
  • Michelle Bateman
  • Jason M. DeFreitas
  • Mwarumba Mwavita
  • Greg Horneber



Physical rehabilitation, recreational therapy, severity of spinal cord injury, spinal cord injury


Physical rehabilitation is common after an individual ex-periences a spinal cord injury. A coordinated multidis-ciplinary team provides services to assist the individual to be as independent as possible when discharged from rehabilitation. There is extensive literature reporting that age, admission FIM™ scores, and the severity of injury are predictive of independence at discharge. The purpose of this study was to investigate change in FIM™ scores based on combination of time spent in different therapies while controlling for severity of injury. We abstracted data from 142 individuals diagnosed with an SCI, between the ages 18 and 91. Results indicate the higher the full stay sever-ity, as computed by the computerized severity index, the smaller gains in global and motor FIM™ scores. We also found that treatment time by occupational, physical, and recreational therapies were independent of patient sever-ity level. Much like the existing literature, individuals with higher severity scores generally have smaller gains in functional independence. It may be important that recreational therapists, along with other treatment team members provide more opportunities for therapy and training to further improve upon an individual’s func-tional independence scores. 

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