Aging after spinal cord injury: an exploratory study.

Objective: To identify the relationship between two aspects of aging (age at injury onset and years since injury onset) with the post-injury prevalence of six classes of secondary conditions among a sample of participants with spinal cord injury (SCI).

p. Design: A cross-sectional study to identify the relationship between the two aging variables and secondary conditions after spinal cord injury.
p. Setting: A large southeastern rehabilitation hospital, with the collaboration of two midwestern hospitals.
p. Participants: Three hundred and forty-seven participants, all of whom had traumatic SCI of an average duration of 18.2 years.
p. Main Outcome Measures: The Secondary Conditions Questionnaire (SCQ), a 50-item self-report screening measure for secondary conditions after SCI, was used to measure the post-injury prevalence of six classes of secondary conditions.
p. Results: There was a significantly greater odds of kidney stones, non-urinary related infections, and three types of musculoskeletal conditions (ie, curvature of the spine, contractures, and fractures) among participant cohorts who were 20-29 years post-injury and 30 or more years post-injury. The odds of heart problems and bowel obstructions were higher with a greater age at injury onset, whereas the odds of seven other conditions decreased among older cohorts at injury. Among these seven conditions, the most dramatic findings were for kidney stones, where individuals who were less than 18 at injury had over 30 times the odds of having had the condition since injury than those who were injured at 40 or older.
p. Conclusion: Although the study was cross-sectional in nature, the results point to secondary conditions which may be problematic with increasing years since injury, as well as those conditions which are more or less likely to occur among individuals injured at different points in their lives.