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Severity of spinal cord injury has no impact on how adults rate their health, WSU research finds
Date:7/12/2011

DETROIT Severity of spinal cord injury in adults is not related to how they rate their health, Wayne State University researchers have found.

In a study of self-rated health (SRH) published this month in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, Cathy Lysack, Ph.D., deputy director of WSU's Institute of Gerontology, along with former Wayne State researcher Katerina Machacova, Ph.D., and Stewart Neufeld, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Institute of Gerontology, evaluated people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) in an effort to better understand the relationship between their self-rated physical ability to perform necessary daily activities and their SRH the way people perceive their own health.

The study of 140 men and women with SCI found that self-rated physical ability topped injury severity as a determining factor of SRH, which may be surprising to the nondisabled.

"Many nondisabled people would think a person with SCI confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed, etc. would have very low ratings of health," said Lysack, an occupational therapist. "But we did not find that. A person with a disability is certainly limited in many ways, but just because they are disabled does not mean they feel their health is poor. This is important because health and disability are not the same thing. You can be living with a disability and still be in very good or even excellent health."

Lysack said the study also is important because the wider scientific literature, most of which comes from studies in aging, indicates SRH is a powerful predictor of other outcomes, including mortality. Prior to this study, few had examined SRH in the context of people with disabilities, so it simply is not known whether this principal holds for people with disabilities too.

The study findings have implications for those who develop instruments to assess physical functioning in older adults and people with disabilities.

"We actually use a lot of t
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
734-748-4207
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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