Long-term studies of specific injuries, their interventions, and their outcomes help to help to identify trends, recognize potential therapeutic problems, and direct future guidelines of care. Such a study was recently conducted in Canada in order to determine the characteristics, trends, and potential predictors of spinal trauma and its associated injuries.
The most significant results of their studies were as follows:
- Traumatic spinal injury admissions have tripled over the last 20 years. In addition to the possibility of an increased number of trauma patients, this finding could also be due to changes in admission criteria.
- Patients with traumatic spinal injury have become almost a decade older over the last 20 years. This increase could be due to an increased risk of falling in older people, but it could also mean a decreased risk of injury in younger people due to better injury prevention.
- Traumatic spinal cord injury has decreased over the last 20 years. This could be a result of better injury prevention.
- Falling and violence have become increasingly frequent contributing factors of spinal and spinal cord injuries. The increasing age of patients may contribute to incidence of falling.
- Motor vehicle accidents have consistently been the most frequent cause of injury.
- Length of stay in the hospital has decreased by 40% in the last 20 years, from a median of 24 to 14 days.
- Fatality rates from a spinal or spinal cord injury have not changed over the last 20 years.
- The presence of a spinal cord injury is not associated with an increased rate of fatality.
Pirouzmand F. Epidemiological trends of spine and spinal cord injuries in the largest Canadian adult trauma center from 1986 to 2006. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. (February 2010).