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July 1954

SPINAL CORD COMPRESSION STUDIES: IV. Outlook with Complete Paralysis in Man

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, New York Medical College, the Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, and the Neurological Institute of New York.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1954;72(1):43-59. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1954.02330010045003

IT IS DESIRABLE, of course, to be able to predict the probable outcome of an illness with and without treatment. The physician can then evaluate therapy and inform the patient or his family and friends of the outlook.

Up to the present time, however, in cases of complete paralysis due to a spinal injury or a neoplasm it has been possible to make only a grave and uncertain prognosis. Generalizations on prognosis in such cases have been made, but they all share the weakness of not being accompanied by the evidence on which they were based. They, therefore, lack the precision necessary for them to be especially helpful clinically.


A. Spinal Cord Injuries.—  In referring to traumatic lesions of the spinal cord, Alcock13 cited Riddoch as saying, for example, that "immediately following the injury there may be absolute loss of function in the cord below the

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