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Physical therapy treatment of a pediatric patient with symptoms consistent with a spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality: A retrospective case report

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2021 Jul;27:455-463. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2021.01.008. Epub 2021 Feb 11.


BACKGROUND: A spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality (SCIWORA) is a relatively uncommon event that occurs in children following cervical trauma primarily due to sports-related injuries or physical abuse.

CASE DESCRIPTION: This case report describes an 11-year-old wrestler that developed signs and symptoms consistent with a SCIWORA following neck trauma during competition. Despite all diagnostic tests being inconclusive, the patient demonstrated increased cervical, thoracic, and lumbar paraspinal tone along with pain, loss of sensation, loss of mobility, and weakness of the lower extremities. As a result, the patient was confined to a wheelchair and required maximum assistance to transfer and ambulate with a walker. The patient was referred to physical therapy nine days after the traumatic event, where he received interferential current with moist heat, myofascial release of paraspinal muscles, functional exercise, gait training, and spinal manipulative therapy targeting the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae.

OUTCOME: After 13 physical therapy treatments over 5-weeks, the patient was able to ambulate independently and perform all activities of daily living without pain or functional limitation. The following case report outlines this patient’s successful journey toward recovery.

CONCLUSION: This case report suggests that spinal manipulative therapy may be a safe and effective intervention when used within a multi-modal treatment strategy for patients with signs and symptoms consistent with SCIWORA. Moreover, spinal manipulative therapy may be considered a beneficial treatment in some pediatric patients. However, this report describes a single patient, and further research is required on the use of spinal manipulation in this patient population.

PMID:34391271 | DOI:10.1016/j.jbmt.2021.01.008


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