The occurrence of the Babinski sign in complete spinal cord injury

Petersen, Jens ; Schubert, Martin ; Dietz, Volker

In: Journal of Neurology, 2010, vol. 257, no. 1, p. 38-43

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    Summary
    The purpose of the present study was to explore factors that influence the occurrence of the Babinski sign (BS) in complete spinal cord injury patients. At Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland, thirty-five subjects suffering from a complete traumatic spinal cord injury (ASIA A) were examined for the occurrence of the BS, tendon reflex excitability and spastic muscle tone (Modified Ashworth Scale). Five subjects were acute/subacute (1-6months after spinal cord injury (SCI)), 30 were chronic (SCI>1year). In one subject, the measures were examined before and after injection of intrathecal Baclofen. Subjects with a negative BS were investigated electrophysiologically for possible peripheral nerve damage. In 17 subjects (49%), the BS was present, while it was absent in 18 subjects (51%). The occurrence of the BS did not depend on the level of lesion. Most patients with a positive BS also presented a high spastic muscle tone, while those with a negative BS showed low level or absent spastic muscle tone. In 11 SCI subjects, absence of the BS was associated with peripheral nerve damage. In one patient, the BS along with spastic signs disappeared after intrathecal injection of Baclofen. In complete SCI subjects, the occurrence of the BS is connected with spastic muscle tone. The absence of the BS is frequently due to associated peripheral nerve damage