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

admissions for SCI at Jefferson's Spinal Cord Injury Center have increased 60 percent since the early 1980's, but geriatric SCI admissions have increased more than 580 percent during that same time period, the researchers found.

"This increase is likely a result of an aging population and propensity for these patients to have SCI with minor trauma," Dr. Harrop noted. "Falls continue to be the predominant mechanism for geriatric spinal cord injuries with 74 percent of geriatric injuries resulting from a fall in this series."

Geriatric patients also appear prone to traumatic spinal cord injuries due to:

    (1) changes in bone quality with aging
    (2) increasing prevalence of cervical spinal stenosis with older age
    (3) an increased rate of motor vehicle accidents per mile driven

It is also believed that these older patients have an increased risk of mortality due to their concurrent medical illnesses, as well as their limited ability to overcome traumatic injuries, they said.

Mortality, both during hospitalization and the first year after injury, was much higher in the geriatric population-- approximately eight times higher, the study showed.

Mortality during hospitalization was 3.2 percent for adult patients less than age 70 and 27.7 percent for geriatric patients. Mortality one year after getting out of the hospital was 5.4 percent for the adult patients and 44.4 percent for the geriatric patients. In both cases of mortality (hospital and one-year), high-quadriplegic injuries were found to have the highest mortality and paraplegic injuries had the lowest mortality.


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Source:Thomas Jefferson University


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