Trends in Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is among the most debilitating and expensive injuries that people suffer, and there have been relatively few studies of SCI trends anywhere internationally. Transportation and fall-related events are the most common causes of SCI in Australia, so the mortality trends have signaled the potential for changes in its incidence. This study reports on trends in spinal cord injury based on the Australian Spinal Cord Injury Register (ASCIR), which provided full coverage in those aged 15 years and over. A Poisson regression model was used to calculate the underlying annual rate of change from 1986 to 1997 for age-specific, crude and age-standardized incidence rates. The study found no change in the age-standardized rate of spinal cord injury however, an assessment of specific rates by age, sex, cause and neurological group exhibited some contrasting trends, notably declining rates in young males, transport-related injury and complete tetraplegia, and increasing rates in elderly males, fall-related injury and incomplete tetraplegia and complete paraplegia. Such contrasts appear to reflect the impact of various public health measures that were directed at transport-related injury; however, there is still a paucity of prevention programs directed at fall-related spinal cord injury. More research is needed to determine the causes of the growing rate of elderly male fall-related SCI. Greater efforts also need to be directed towards preventing transportation-related SCI. Sport utility vehicles are also a growing concern in Australia. In order to reinvigorate the debate about the need for a vehicle rollover resistance rating in Australia, the spinal cord injury risk of different models of SUV should be measured. Such has already been implemented in the United States to provide the American public with information about safety considerations to help them make informed purchasing decisions.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Peter J. O'Connor was formerly the Director of the Australian Spinal Cord Injury Register (ASCIR). He is currently an epidemiologist and risk management consultant in private practice.
  • Authors:
    • O'Connor, Peter J
  • Publication Date: 2006-1


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01013464
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 11 2005 5:07PM