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Neurol Neurocir Psiquiatr. 1977;18(2-3 Suppl):157-91.

Epidemiology of spinal cord injury.


Accidents are the cause of some 50 deaths per 100 000 population each year in the US; some 3% of these are from traumatic spinal cord injury alone. Traumatic spinal cord injury in socioeconomically advanced countries, has a probably annual incidence rate of 3 per 100 000 population. Males are affected five times as often as females, and in the US, Negroes have twice the rates of whites. Half the cases are due to motor vehicle accidents, 1/4 to falls, and 1/10 to sports injuries. Maximal ages at risk are 15 to 34; only for cord damage due to falls do this risk differ, and here elderly are the more prone. Associated injuries are common in traumatic cord injury, and head injury and pulmonary dysfunction are frequent causes of the acute deaths in traumatic SCI which is why complete quadriplegia has a high early case-fatality ratio. Late deaths in SCI are principally the direct or indirect result of the neurogenic bladder. With treatment in comprehensive spinal cord injury centers, more than 4 of 5 traumatic SCI patients will survive ten years with an average of almost 18 years. Median survival may be almost 14 years for complete quadriplegia, 17 for complete paraplegia, 19 for incomplete quadriplegia, 20 for incomplete paraplegia and 28 for cauda equina lesions. Prevalence is likely to be some 50 per 100 000 population with about 20 per 100 000 completely paralyzed (3 quadriplegic and 19 paraplegic). Some 4 out of 5 survivors of traumatic SCI should be able to live at home and perform gainful work after such treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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