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Paraplegia. 1995 May;33(5):254-62.

Neurological recovery, mortality and length of stay after acute spinal cord injury associated with changes in management.

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Spinal Cord Injury Treatment, Research and Prevention Centre, Toronto Hospital, Ontario, Canada.


Based on epidemiological data from two populations of patients with acute spinal cord injury (ASCI), three outcome measures were compared to evaluate the effectiveness of management of ASCI patients in a regional, specialized acute spinal cord injury unit (ASCIU). The two populations consisted of a pre-ASCIU group of 351 patients managed from 1947-73 before the establishment of the ASCIU, and an ASCIU group of 201 patients managed in an ASCIU from 1974-81. The three outcome measures were mortality rate, length of stay (LOS) during first hospitalization, and neurological recovery. Linear regression and multiple regression analyses were used to determine whether differences in the outcome measures were attributable to differences in admission variables in addition to the influence of the ASCIU. The results showed that the patients treated in the ASCIU had a significant reduction in the mortality rate of almost 50% (P = 0.022), a significant reduction in the LOS of almost 50% (P < 0.001), and a significant increase in neurological recovery consisting of a doubling of the neurological recovery scale utilized (P < 0.001). Multiple regression analysis showed that the reduction in mortality rate was significantly influenced by differences in the admission variables between the two groups. However, the establishment of the ASCIU was associated with a significant reduction in LOS and a significant improvement in neurological recovery. Thus, these results support the view that management of ASCI patients in a regional, multidisciplinary unit is medically advantageous and can reduce the LOS.

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