What are the clinical features of COVID-19 in patients with spinal cord injury?

Bottom Line:

Patients with spinal cord injury and a COVID-19 infection show fewer symptoms than the general population but present with similar or worse severity.


Rodriguez-Cola, M. et al. Clinical features of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a cohort of patients with disability due to spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord Series and Cases (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41394-020-0288-3

Date Published:

13 May 2020


Previous research has investigated the vulnerability of patients with spinal cord injury to become infected by COVID-19. This study highlights what symptoms may look like for these patients. More than half of the patients in this study showed only one or two symptoms at the start of their infection which is lower than the number of symptoms of most people at presentation. In the beginning, most patients with spinal cord injury presented with fever and lack of energy which is different from the general population where cough and fever are the most common initial symptoms. These patients are also at higher risk for worsening condition when infected. After a COVID-19 diagnosis, all the patients reportedly needed a tracheostomy and assistance breathing. Given the reduced number of initial symptoms in these patients, it’s important that they are closely monitored to prevent their condition from worsening. Moreover, there is a possibility that COVID-19 symptoms can overlap with signs of respiratory failure due to spinal cord injury and this can delay the diagnosis of a potential infection. It’s important for physicians and patients to be aware of this while monitoring symptoms.

Summary by: Brintha Sivajohan