To determine the incidence and evaluate the characteristics of newly injured patients admitted to two spinal cord injury (SCI) centers during a 4-year period.
Oulu and Tampere University Hospital, Finland.
A dedicated multidisciplinary team evaluated all of the patients with new traumatic SCI (TSCI). The data were recorded according to the International Spinal Cord Injury Core Data Sets.
In a 4-year period, 346 new patients with TSCI were admitted to the study centers. In the Oulu and Tampere University Hospitals' catchment areas, the mean annual incidence of TSCI was 36.6 per million. The leading causes of injury were low-level falls (36.2%), high-level falls (25.5%), and transport-related accidents (19.2%). In the patients >60 years, 72.6% were injured by falling and the proportion of low-level falls was 49.7%. In the patients =60 years old, 47.4% were alcohol-related. The proportion of cervical injuries in the patients >60 years was 77.1%, while in the patients =60 years the proportion was 59.6%. The incidence of TSCI was higher during the Summer and Autumn months.
The mean annual incidence of TSCI was 36.6 per million corresponding to 200 new annual cases in Finland. Incomplete tetraplegia due to falling among elderly was overrepresented in the study population. Alcohol-consumption preceded injury in nearly half of the cases in the younger population. The prevention should focus on alcohol-related injuries and falls in the elderly.