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This paper reports motor index scores on motor complete (Frankel A, B), C4- T1, quadriplegic patients at admission, 72 h to 1 week and 6 months after spinal cord injury. This study is designed to test the hypothesis that the 72-h to 1-week motor index score (referred to as 72-h motor score) is superior to motor scores recorded within the first 24 h in predicting 6 month motor scores. Twenty-seven quadriplegic subjects, ages 15-70 years, were followed prospectively using manual muscle test to document motor recovery. Biceps, wrist extensors, triceps, flexor digitorum profoundus and first dorsal interossei were tested within 24 h, 72 h-1 week and 6 months after injury to comprise the motor index score. Average total motor scores for both upper extremities at admission were 14.0, at 72 h 13.9, and at 6 months 19.3 (ANOVA, P<0.01). Total bilateral motor scores changed by 5.3 from admission to 6 months and by 5.4 from 72 h to 6 months. No significant difference existed between the admission and post 72-h motor score in predicting the 6-month motor score (Newmann-Keuls P>0.05). Thus, despite significant change in motor score after spinal cord injury, both admission and 72-h motor scores equally predicted 6 month motor recovery of C4-T1 motor complete quadriplegic patients.