Spinal cord injuries are highly disabling and deadly injuries. Currently, few studies focus on non-traumatic spinal cord injuries, and there is little information regarding the risk factors for complete injuries. This study aims to describe the demographics and the injury characteristics for both traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injuries and to explore the risk factors for complete spinal cord injuries.
A retrospective study was performed by reviewing the medical records of 3,832 patients with spinal cord injuries who were first admitted to the sampled hospitals in Guangdong, China. The demographics and injury characteristics of the patients were described and compared between the different groups using the chi-square test. Logistic regression was conducted to analyze the risk factors for complete spinal cord injuries.
The proportion of patients increased from 7.0% to 14.0% from 2003 to 2011. The male-to-female ratio was 3.0∶1. The major cause of spinal cord injuries was traffic accidents (21.7%). Many of the injured were workers (36.2%), peasants (22.8%), and unemployed people (13.9%); these occupations accounted for 72.9% of the total sample. A multivariate logistic regression model revealed that the OR (95% CI) for male gender compared to female gender was 1.25 (1.07–1.89), the OR (95%CI) for having a spinal fracture was 1.56 (1.35–2.60), the OR (95%CI) for having a thoracic injury was 1.23 (1.10–2.00), and the OR (95%CI) for having complications was 2.47 (1.96–3.13).
The proportion of males was higher than the proportion of females. Workers, peasants and the unemployed comprised the high-risk occupational categories. Male gender, having a spinal fracture, having a thoracic injury, and having complications were the major risk factors for a complete injury. We recommend that preventive measures should focus on high-risk populations, such as young males.