September 1988

Undiagnosed Spinal Cord Injuries in Brain-Injured Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Spain Rehabilitation Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(9):965-967. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150090063023

• Four children with brain injury were later found to have coexisting spinal cord injury (SCI). Findings that warrant investigation for coexisting SCI include a dermatome pattern sensory loss; absence of movement and reflexes in either both arms or both legs with preservation in the remaining extremities; flaccidity; absence of sacral reflexes; diaphragmatic breathing without use of accessory respiratory muscles; bradycardia with hypotension; autonomic hyperreflexia; poikilothermia; unexplained urinary retention; history of neck pain; unexplained ileus; priapism; and the presence of clonus in an unconscious patient without decerebrate rigidity. If any of the above are present, the spine should be stabilized until either further diagnostic studies confirm SCI with treatment instituted or serial neurologic examinations confirm the absence of SCI.

(AJDC 1988;142:965-967)