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Mental Health After SCI


Author Year
Research Design
PEDro Score
Total Sample Size
Methods Outcome
Chase et al., (2013)
RCT Crossover
Population: Mean age=40.24yr;
Gender: males=33, females=7; Level of
injury: paraplegia=7, quadriplegia=33;
Severity of injury: incomplete=17,
complete=23; Mean time post

injury=69.35d; Depression
Intervention: Individuals with any form
of pain received compression massage
(BCM) and light contact touch (LCT) in
a randomized sequence during six
20min sessions over 2wk. Outcomes
were assessed pre and post each week.
Outcome Measures: Patient Health
Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).

1. PHQ-9 score was reduced
significantly more in the LCT-BCM
group than in the BCM-LCT group
during wk1 (p=0.0085), but not during
wk 2 (p=0.0747).
Diego et al., (2002)
Population: Mean age=39 yr; Gender:
males=15, females=5; Level of injury:
tetraplegia; Time since injury=>1 yr.
Intervention: One group received a 40
min massage 2x/wk for 5 wk by a
massage therapist while the other was
taught an exercise routine that they
performed 2x/wk for 5 wk on their own.
Outcome Measures: State Trait
Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Center for
Epidemiologic Studies Depression
Scale (CES-D).
1. CES-D scores obtained on first day
versus last day assessment by
group. Repeated measures ANOVA
showed a group by day interaction
effect (p<0.05).
2. t-tests revealed greater decrease in
CES-D depression scores for the
massage therapy group (p<0.05).


Two studies found the massage was effective in reducing symptoms of depression post SCI (Chase et al. 2013; Diego et al. 2002). Diego et al. (2002) found that participants who received twice weekly massage for 5 weeks had greater reduction in depressive symptoms than those that participated in a 5 week exercise program. A second study reported that light contact touch as more effective at reducing symptoms of depression than compression massage (Chase et al. 2013).


There is level 1b evidence (Diego et al. 2002) that massage may be effective in reducing symptoms of depression post SCI.

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