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Traumatic vs non-traumatic spinal cord injury: A comparison of primary rehabilitation outcomes and complications during hospitalization

Journal article
Authors M. H. Gedde
H. S. Lilleberg
J. Aβmus
N. E. Gilhus
Tiina Rekand
Published in Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Volume 42
Issue 6
Pages 695-701
ISSN 1079-0268
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 695-701
Language en
Keywords AIS impairment scale, Complications, Length of stay, Non-traumatic spinal cord injury, Traumatic spinal cord injury
Subject categories Neurology


Objective: To compare outcome for patients with traumatic (TSCI) and non-traumatic spinal cord injuries (NTSCI) after primary rehabilitation regarding neurological improvement measured by the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS), length of stay and complications. Design: Retrospective comparative cohort study on patients with TSCI and NTSCI, hospitalized during a ten-year period at Haukeland University Hospital, Norway. Impairment, length of stay and complications during first in-patient rehabilitation period were analyzed. Uni- and multivariate analysis was performed. Setting: Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Unit, Haukeland University Hospital, Norway Participants: A total of 174 persons with a spinal cord injury (SCI) were included; 102 with TSCI and 72 with NTSCI. Outcome measures: Neurological improvement measured by AIS from admission to discharge, number of weeks in the hospital, frequency and significance of complications were compared. Results: Improvement in AIS after primary rehabilitation did not differ between TSCI and NTSCI. Length of stay was in average 3.4 weeks longer for TSCI. Urinary tract infections and pressure ulcers significantly influenced length of stay in both groups. Urinary tract infections were more frequent in TSCI (67%) vs NTSCI (42%). Pressure ulcers were more frequent among NTSCI (24%) vs TSCI (14%). Pneumonia and neuropathic pain did not depend on etiology and did not influence length of stay. Conclusions: Patients with SCI have a rehabilitation potential regardless of etiology. Complications are frequent in both groups and often prolong hospitalization. Complication patterns differ in the two groups, and specific prevention and optimal treatment will shorten and optimize the length of primary rehabilitation. © 2019, © The Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, Inc. 2019.

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