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Elderly spinal cord injuries increase five-fold in 30 years, Jefferson neurosurgeons find

The number of spinal cord injuries among senior citizens (age 70 and above) has increased five times in the past 30 years, as compared with younger spinal cord injury patients, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Jefferson's Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley recently reported.

As the population within the United States ages, it is estimated that 20 percent of its population will be older than age 65 by the year 2040, and will likely impact spine surgeons and spinal cord rehabilitation centers as these patients become a larger proportion of the spinal cord injury (SCI) population. The findings were just presented by Jefferson neurological surgeons at a meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. of the Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

"Spinal cord injuries in older patients are becoming more prevalent," said James Harrop, M.D, Assistant Professor of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgery, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, one of the study's primary investigators. "The mortality of these patients is much greater than younger patients and should be factored in when considering aggressive interventions and counseling families regarding prognosis." However, they also found that these patients have had an increase in survival over this period.

Admissions by geriatric SCI patients have increased five-fold and the percentage of geriatric patients within the SCI population has increased from 4.2 percent to 15.4 percent since 1980. In comparison to younger patients, geriatric patients are less likely to have severe neurological deficits but have higher rates of mortality. Researchers reviewed a database of 3,481 consecutive acute penetrating and blunt spinal cord and spine-injured patients treated at Jefferson Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center over a 28-year period (1978-2006).

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Source:Thomas Jefferson University


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