Residential location of people with chronic spinal cord injury: The importance of health care infrastructure

People with spinal cord injury (SCI) often require specialized care services for a range of complex health complications. These services may be unavailable to people who live in remote or rural areas, and many choose to move to more centralized locations, where targeted SCI care is more accessible. Because health care providers are dedicated to ensuring high quality of life in people with SCI, it is important to understand how the infrastructure of health care services can best support these individuals.

A recent Swiss study examined inpatient hospital records to determine the distribution of SCI patients nationwide. They found that people with SCI were not living in an equal distribution among the population. Instead, individuals with SCI lived in clusters where specialized treatment was most accessible, including urban areas and areas with a high density of outpatient physicians. Many SCI patients who lived in rural areas, where specialized treatment was not widely available, considered moving closer to health care services; however, most were unwilling to make a move that would require crossing language barriers.

Access to adequate health care services plays a critical role in the lives and decision-making processes of people with SCI. Expansion of health care infrastructure related to SCI-specific treatment may be invaluable to individuals with SCI, who may struggle to find adequate medical support outside of urban centers.

Ronca E, Brunkert T, Koch HG, et al. Residential location of people with chronic spinal cord injury: The importance of health care infrastructure. BMC Health Services Research. (August 2018).

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