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Psychosocial Outcomes of Children and Adolescents With Early-Onset Spinal Cord Injury and Those With Spina Bifida

Flanagan, Ann PT, PCS; Kelly, Erin H. PhD; Vogel, Lawrence C. MD

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3182a5d35c
Research Article

Purpose: To describe psychosocial outcomes of children and adolescents with early-onset spinal cord injury (SCI) and spina bifida (SB) and identify differences between them.

Methods: Eighty-three participants had acquired SCI before age 3 years (mean age 10.6 ± 3.8 yrs), and 54 had SB (mean age 11.7 ± 4.1 yrs). The participants completed standardized assessments of participation, quality of life (QOL), anxiety, and depression. Independent-sample t tests and Mann-Whitney tests were used to assess group differences.

Results: Participants with SCI reported higher school QOL (P = .016) and lower anxiety with social concerns/concentration (P = .037) than did participants with SB. The subgroup of participants with SCI with paraplegia reported higher school (P = .014) and overall (P = .034) QOL, and they participated in more activities (P = .015) than participants with SB.

Conclusions: Children and adolescents with SCI with paraplegia have greater school and overall QOL and participate in more activities than children and adolescents with SB. Children and adolescents with SB would benefit from increased support at school and in social participation.

Children and adolescents with SCI were found to have greater quality of life and to participate in more activities than those with spina bifida. The authors suggest children with spinal bifida would benefit from increased support at school and in social participation.

Shriners Hospitals for Children (Ms Flanagan, Drs Kelly and Vogel), Chicago, Illinois; University of Illinois (Dr Kelly), Chicago, Illinois; Rush Medical College (Dr Vogel), Chicago, Illinois.

Ann Flanagan, PT, PCS, Shriners Hospitals for Children–Chicago, 2211 N. Oak Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60707 (

Grant support: This project was supported by Shriners Hospitals for Children Grant #9143.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association.