Expectations of life and health among spinal cord injured adults.

While our understanding of aging and mortality in spinal cord injury is evolving, precise estimates are still not available for expectations of life and health following a spinal cord injury. In order to derive these estimates, information about mortality and health must be combined into a single estimate. Health expectancy estimates have been widely used in the literature of the last decade to try to understand the relationship between population health and survival, both in the general population and in special populations. This study brought the benefit of this methodology to the question of long-term survival following spinal cord injury. Specifically, the study aimed to calculate life and health expectancy in a population of spinal cord injured individuals; and to estimate the effect of factors associated with survival and health. The study involved a retrospective cohort, all of whom sustained a spinal cord injury between the ages of 25 and 34 years, and between 1945 and 1990. The study predicted a median survival time of 38 years post-injury, with 43% surviving at least 40 years. These findings suggest an increase in life expectancy of about 5 years over previous research on the same cohort. Factors affecting survival were age at injury, level and completeness of lesion. Expectations of health found in the present study are similar to those found in studies of the general population. This study showed seven remaining years of poor health expected at injury, and five remaining years expected at 40 years post injury, presumably occurring at the end of life.