What is the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) method for classifying spinal cord injury (SCI)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS, FAANS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Answer

The percentage of spinal cord injuries as classified by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) is as follows:

  • Incomplete tetraplegia: 29.5%

  • Complete paraplegia: 27.9%

  • Incomplete paraplegia: 21.3%

  • Complete tetraplegia: 18.5%

The most common neurologic level of injury is C5. In paraplegia, T12 and L1 are the most common level. The following image depicts the ASIA classification by neurologic level.

American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) method f American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) method for classifying spinal cord injury (SCI) by neurologic level.

See also Hypercalcemia and Spinal Cord Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Aging, Rehabilitation of Persons With Spinal Cord Injuries, Central Cord Syndrome, Brown-Sequard Syndrome, and Cauda Equina and Conus Medullaris Syndromes.

Historical information in SCI classification

In 1982, ASIA first published standards for neurologic classification of patients with spinal injury, followed by further refinements to definitions of neurologic levels, identification of key muscles and sensory points corresponding to specific neurologic levels, and validation of the Frankel scale. In 1992, the International Medical Society of Paraplegia (IMSOP) adopted these guidelines to create true international standards, followed by further refinements. A standardized ASIA method for classifying spinal cord injury (SCI) by neurologic level was developed (see the image above).


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