Successful utilization of the International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI) requires a comprehensive understanding of its rules, terminology, and several complex concepts. There have been no studies investigating classification accuracy since the newest ISNCSCI revision (2019).


To evaluate classification accuracy of SCI professionals using the 2019 ISNCSCI edition, identify common mistakes and areas of confusion, and assess associations between experience in ISNCSCI classification and performance.


Members of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) and attendees of the ISCoS Annual Scientific Meeting 2021 were invited to complete an online survey that included six ISNCSCI cases to classify.


A total of 107 persons completed the survey, with overall classification accuracy of 74.6%. Accuracy was highest for injury completeness (95.3%) and sensory level (91.1%) and lowest for motor zone of partial preservation (ZPP; 54.7%) and ASIA Impairment Scale (AIS) grade (57.3%). Newer concepts, including the appropriate documentation of non-SCI conditions and classification of ZPP in incomplete injuries, contributed to several common errors. There was a significant association between overall classification accuracy and self-rated experience in the ISNCSCI classification (p = .017). Experience with the ISNCSCI examination, experience in SCI medicine, and occupation were not found to be significantly associated with overall classification accuracy.


Classification accuracy of an international cohort of SCI professionals was modest but greater than previous reports. Knowledge deficits about the 2019 ISNCSCI updates are prevalent and contribute to common classification errors. Further training in the utilization of the ISNCSCI is needed.

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