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Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2013 Winter;19(1):1-8. doi: 10.1310/sci1901-1.

Causes of spinal cord injury.

Author information

1
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham, Alabama.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Knowledge of the causes of spinal cord injury (SCI) and associated factors is critical in the development of successful prevention programs.

OBJECTIVE:

This study analyzed data from the National SCI Database (NSCID) and National Shriners SCI Database (NSSCID) in the United States to examine specific etiologies of SCI by age, sex, race, ethnicity, day and month of injury, and neurologic outcomes.

METHODS:

NSCID and NSSCID participants who had a traumatic SCI from 2005 to 2011 with known etiology were included in the analyses (N=7,834). Thirty-seven causes of injury documented in the databases were stratified by personal characteristics using descriptive analysis.

RESULTS:

The most common causes of SCI were automobile crashes (31.5%) and falls (25.3%), followed by gunshot wounds (10.4%), motorcycle crashes (6.8%), diving incidents (4.7%), and medical/surgical complications (4.3%), which collectively accounted for 83.1% of total SCIs since 2005. Automobile crashes were the leading cause of SCI until age 45 years, whereas falls were the leading cause after age 45 years. Gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes, and diving caused more SCIs in males than females. The major difference among race/ethnicity was in the proportion of gunshot wounds. More SCIs occurred during the weekends and warmer months, which seemed to parallel the increase of motorcycle- and diving-related SCIs. Level and completeness of injury are also associated with etiology of injury.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present findings suggest that prevention strategies should be tailored to the targeted population and major causes to have a meaningful impact on reducing the incidence of SCI.

KEYWORDS:

epidemiology; etiology; prevention; spinal cord injuries

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