Scandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine 2018 04 0526(1) 27 doi 10.1186/s13049-018-0491-4
Traumatic spinal cord injury remains a serious public health and social problem. Although incidence rates are decreasing in our environment, it is a high cost condition that is associated with great disability. The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiological and demographic characteristics of traumatic spinal cord injury and to analyse its epidemiological changes.
This study was an observational study with prospective monitoring of all traumatic spinal cord injury patients in the Canary Islands, Spain (2.1 million inhabitants) between 2001 and 2015.
Over the specified period of the study, 282 patients suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury. The crude incidence rate was 9.3 cases per million people/year. The patients’ mean age increased from 38 years (2001-2005) to 48 years (2011-2015) (p < 0.05). Overall, 80.1% of patients were males. The trauma mechanisms of spinal cord injury were falls in 44%, traffic accidents in 36.5%, diving accidents in 8.9% and others in 10.7%. While traffic accidents decreased, falls increased, particularly in the elderly (p < 0.05). The most frequently affected level was the cervical spine (50.9%), and incomplete tetraplegia was the most prevalent group (29.8%). A total of 76.6% of all patients suffered a vertebral fracture, and 91.6% of these required surgery. Among 282 patients, 12.5% were transferred to residences. The patients transferred increased from 8.5% in the first period to 20.0% (p < 0.05) in the last period. Such cases were related to age, cervical level injuries and injuries associated with poor functionality (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS
The rise in the number of falls among the older population, as well as the reduction in traffic accidents, decreased the incidence of traumatic spinal cord injury in our environment. This change in the profile of new traumatic spinal cord injuries led us to reformulate the functional objectives planned for these patients upon admission to specialized units, to plan destination-upon-discharge in advance and to promote campaigns to prevent spinal cord injury in older adults.