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J Neurotrauma. 2013 Nov 1;30(21):1824-9. doi: 10.1089/neu.2013.2975. Epub 2013 Sep 28.

Onset, risk factors, and impact of delirium in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury.

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1 Rick Hansen Institute , Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada .


Delirium is a commonly reported acute care adverse event in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI), but studies specifically investigating it in this population are lacking. The purpose of this study was to characterize the onset, risk factors, and impact of delirium in patients with TSCI. Patients discharged between 2008 and 2010 were identified from a prospective registry in an acute SCI center. Controls were matched to delirium cases based on date of discharge from acute care. Patient characteristics, risk factors, and the hospital unit (intensive care, spine step-down, spine ward) in which delirium occurred were collected retrospectively. Length of stay (LOS) was calculated and compared between cases and controls. A predictive model was built for patient characteristics and risk factors associated with delirium using logistical regression. There were 192 patients identified from the study group; 34 (17.7%) were delirium cases and 34 were selected as controls. Most delirious episodes were reported during high acuity care (76.5%). The median time interval between injury and delirium identification was 8.5 days (interquartile range=5-31). Age at injury (p<0.01) and initial motor score (p<0.05) were significantly associated with delirium. Patients with delirium had significantly greater LOS than controls (median LOS=46.9 vs. 15.3 days respectively, p<0.0001). Elderly patients who sustain a TSCI and have a low motor score on admission are at increased risk of delirium. These results could contribute to the development of a screening program to address the problem of delirium in the TSCI population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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