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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Examining health-care utilization in the first year following spinal cord injury.


Skelton F, Hoffman JM, Reyes M, Burns SP



Publication Info:

Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, Epub ahead of print 10/09/2014:


OBJECTIVE: To identify factors associated with health-care utilization during the first year after inpatient rehabilitation (IR) in individuals with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).
DESIGN: Prospective cohort.
METHODS: One hundred and sixty-eight patients were prospectively enrolled and followed over 1 year after discharge from an SCI Model System IR program. Telephone follow-up occurred at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Participants were grouped into four impairment levels (C1-4 American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) A-C, C5-C8 AIS A-C, paraplegia AIS A-C, and all AIS D). Three domains of health-care utilization were examined: hospital care, outpatient provider visits, and home services.
RESULTS: Health-care utilization in the first year following IR was high with 45% of subjects reporting re-hospitalization. Twenty percent of patients were initially discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF), and an additional 10% required SNF care during this first year. Overall, those with C1-4 AIS A-C used the most services. Participants discharged home used less health care compared to those discharged elsewhere. SCI due to falls (vs. vehicular crashes) was associated with fewer in-home service visits. Age, sex, race, and education were unrelated to higher use.
CONCLUSION: Those with greater neurological impairment or not discharged home after IR had higher health-care utilization, while age was not associated with utilization. Targeted efforts to reduce genitourinary and respiratory complications may reduce the need for hospital care in the first year after IR.

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