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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Frequency and age effects of secondary health conditions in individuals with spinal cord injury: A scoping review


Jensen M, Truitt A, Schomer K, Yorkston K, Baylor C, Molton IR



Publication Info:

Spinal Cord, 51(12):882-892


STUDY DESIGN: Scoping review.
OBJECTIVES: To gain a better understanding of the prevalence, course and association with age of secondary health conditions in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).
SETTING: Seattle, Washington, USA.
METHODS: We performed searches of electronic databases for studies published from 1986-2011 that provided information regarding the prevalence, course or associations with age and duration of secondary health conditions in individuals with SCI.
RESULTS: Ninety-two studies were included. The findings indicate that: (1) individuals with SCI experience a number of secondary health conditions, many of which occur at a higher rate in those with SCI than the normative population; (2) the most common conditions or symptoms are pain, bowel and bladder regulation problems, muscle spasms, fatigue, esophageal symptom and osteoporosis; (3) a number of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone mineral density loss, fatigue and respiratory complications or infections, occur with higher frequency in older individuals or those with longer SCI duration, relative to younger individuals or those with shorter SCI duration; and (4) there is a marked lack of longitudinal research examining the natural course of health conditions in individuals aging with SCI.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings support the conclusion that individuals with SCI show signs of 'premature aging' in different organ systems. Longitudinal research is needed to understand when problems are most likely to emerge, and to develop and test the efficacy of interventions to prevent these health conditions and their negative impact.

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