This 16th report in the Spinal cord injury, Australia series presents national statistics on spinal cord injury (SCI) using data from case registrations to the Australian Spinal Cord Injury Register for 2014–15.
There were 264 newly incident cases of traumatic SCI due to external causes reported for 2014–15. Of these cases, 254 resulted in persisting injury, 6 died and 4 had no long-term neurological injury. The neurological level of injury for all cases who died before discharge was C7 or higher (cervical level segments being C1–C8), and the time between injury and death ranged between 6 and 147 days.
The age-standardised rate of persisting traumatic SCI was estimated to be 12.8 cases per million population aged 15 and older. The age-specific rate was highest for ages 55–64 (19.9 cases per million), followed by 19.8 cases per million for ages 65–74.
Incidence rates of persisting traumatic SCI for males were higher across all age groups than those for females.
The median duration of initial care was longest for the most severe type of persisting traumatic SCI on admission—Complete tetraplegia. Complete tetraplegia is a neurological injury to the cervical spine, with no motor or sensory function preserved at the lowest sacral segments S4–S5. Half of these tetraplegia cases spent 219 days (approximately 7 months) or longer in hospital, from the time of injury to being discharged home from a specialist spinal unit.