Spinal Cord Injuries Rising Among U.S. Elderly

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Spinal cord injury rates are rising.
Spinal cord injury rates are rising.

HealthDay News -- While the overall rate of traumatic spinal cord injuries was stable from 1993 to 2012, an increasing number of older Americans have experienced this injury, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Nitin Jain, MD, MSPH, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues collected data on 63,109 U.S. patients with acute traumatic spinal cord injury. 

The researchers found that the number of spinal cord injuries increased from 2,659 in 1993 to 3,393 in 2012. However, the rate of injuries -- the number of cases per total U.S. population -- remained stable. In 1993, the rate of spinal cord injuries was 53 cases per one million people. In 2012, it was 54 cases per million.

Although the overall rate of spinal cord injury remained constant, the rate in young males -- between ages 16 and 24 -- went from 144 per million to 87 per million over the decade. In females of the same age, the researchers found the rate went from 42 per million in 1993 to 27 per million in 2012. 

Older men -- those between 65 and 74 -- saw a large increase in their rate of spinal cord injuries -- from 84 per million to 131 per million over the study period. The rate in women of the same age went from 32 per million to 53 per million. Among all Americans 65 and older, the number of spinal cord injury from falls increased significantly (28 percent in 1997-2000 to 66 percent in 2010-2012).

The number of deaths in hospitals from spinal cord injury increased from 6.6% in 1993-1996 to 7.5% by 2010-2012. But among those 85 and older, deaths decreased significantly. In 1993 to 1996, the death rate from spinal cord injury for older people was 24%. By 2010 to 2012, it was down to 20%.

Reference

  1. Jain NB. JAMA. 2015; doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6250.
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