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American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation:
CME Article: Spinal Cord Injury

Secondary Impairments After Spinal Cord Injury: A Population-Based Study

Noreau, Luc PhD; Proulx, Pierre MD; Gagnon, Lisette MSc, RN; Drolet, Mélanie MSc, PT; Laramée, Marie-Thérèse MSc, PT

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Abstract

Objective: To determine the prevalence of secondary impairments among individuals with long-standing spinal cord injury in Quebec and the potential relationships between these impairments and several variables.

Design: A review of 2200 medical files was conducted to determine the target population; 976 patients were selected randomly and mailed questionnaires. The results were based on 482 individuals with spinal cord injury who returned the completed questionnaire. The questionnaire included 14 subsections, such as sociodemographic, medical, psychosocial, and environmental information. The medical section, including the type and level of lesion and the presence of secondary impairments, was analyzed.

Results: Urinary tract infection, spasticity, and hypotension were the most frequently reported secondary impairments, regardless of the severity of injury. Relationships between the prevalence of secondary impairments and the duration of injury, as well as perceived health status, were observed.

Conclusions: This is the first study to describe secondary impairments after long-standing spinal cord injury in Quebec. Patients with spinal cord injury still present a high prevalence of secondary impairments many years after their rehabilitation, despite preventive education or medical follow-up visits. Further studies are required to determine the specific impact that these impairments have on the patients’ social role and their quality-of-life.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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