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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Jan;92(1):59-67. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2010.09.019.

Osteoporosis in persons with spinal cord injury: the need for a targeted therapeutic education.

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Centre Mutualiste Neurologique Propara, Montpellier, France.



To identify circumstances surrounding the onset of fracture and common risk factors in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and to suggest an alternative or complement to the pharmacologic approach by evaluating the need for a prospective study based on the impact of a targeted therapeutic education on risk management of fractures in this population.


Retrospective study.


Hospital and Rehabilitation Center Setting.


Women (n=7) and men (n=25; N=32; with ≥1 fracture after the initial SCI that occurred at home or in a hospital setting; mean ± SD age, 53±12y at the time of clinical review) with bone mineral density (BMD) measurements.


Not applicable.


Demographics, main circumstances of onset, and complications of fractures, as well as transversal bone mineral density evaluation.


Nine patients had more than 1 fracture and 23 patients had only 1 fracture (total, 43 fractures; mean age at onset of fracture, 49±12y; median time since injury, 13.9y; mean delay in diagnosis, 6.5±15d). Fractures occurred mostly in the lower limbs. The circumstances of onset of these fractures were different and very stereotyped. In 3 cases, no trauma was reported. The most frequent mechanisms identified were forced maneuvers by the patient or a third party and falls. In 10 cases, the fracture occurred during a wheelchair transfer with forced maneuver or a fall from the wheelchair. Twenty-five patients were confined to bed after the fracture (mean duration of bed confinement, 18±28d; range, 0-120d). Postfracture follow-up showed that for 43 cases of fractures, 19 had at least 1 orthopedic complication, 15 had local complications, and 23 had general complications. Patients (23 of 32) benefited from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to assess BMD a few months or years after the fracture (mean femoral neck BMD, 0.574±0.197g/cm²; mean femoral neck T score, -3.8±1.5).


With this retrospective analysis of common risk factors and circumstances of onset of secondary fractures, there is a clear future for a prospective study to evaluate the impact of targeted therapeutic education on risk factors for secondary fractures in patients with SCI.

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