Cognitive Performance and Psychological Well-being in Chronic Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury: Comparison of Cervical SCI Group versus Orthopedic Injury Group


  • Susanna Rasimus Helsingin yliopisto, psykologian ja logopedian osasto
  • Eija Rosti-Otajärvi Tampereen yliopistollinen keskussairaala
  • Eerika Koskinen Tampereen yliopistollinen keskussairaala


spinal cord injury, tetraplegia, cognitive impairment, psychological well-being


The purpose of this study was to assess cognitive performance and psychological well-being in traumatic chronic cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). The results of a SCI group (n = 29) and an orthopedical injury (OI) group (n = 40) were compared. Participants were administered self -report measures of pain, post-traumatic and depressive symptoms as well as a comprehensive motor-free neuropsychological assessment battery. After controlling for demographic and psychological factors, group was a significant independent explanatory variable of cognitive performance in two neuropsychological measures (Categorical word fluency and WAIS-III Picture completion) with the SCI group performing worse than the OI group. Pain was a significant independent explanatory variable of performance in PASAT. In most of the evaluated neuropsychological measures, education years was a significant predictor of performance and had a positive relationship with neuropsychological test performance. In an individual level 24 % of the SCI participants met the criteria for cognitive impairment. SCI group reported more pain and more post-traumatic symptoms than OI group. In conclusion, cognitive impairment is a salient factor to consider in chronic cervical traumatic SCI, but most of the population seem to function cognitively within normal limits. Educational level is important to consider in neuropsychological assessment to avoid false positive evaluations for cognitive impairment. Pain management is of essence to support cognitive functioning in SCI.