Content » Vol 43, Issue 6

Original report

Survival after spinal cord injury in Finland

Eija Ahoniemi, Timo Pohjolainen, Hannu Kautiainen
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0812


Objective: Mortality, cause of death and risk indicators for death among patients with traumatic spinal cord injury were investigated over a 30-year period.
Design: A cross-sectional study with retrospective data.
Subjects: All patients (n = 1647) aged 16 years and over who had sustained traumatic spinal cord injury during the period 1976–2005, who were admitted to Käpylä Rehabilitation Centre, Helsinki, Finland, participated in the study.
Methods: Demographic and clinical data were collected from the registers of Käpylä Rehabilitation Centre. Cause-specific
mortality was assessed using Statistics Finland’s official cause-of-death register.
Results: During the observation period (1976–2007) 419 patients died. The main causes of death were respiratory disease (28%), cardiovascular disease (21%), suicide (10%) and external causes (9.5%). The mean age at death was 55.5 years for men and 58.2 years for women. Ten-year survival was 97.9%. Mortality was significantly affected by age at onset of injury, neurological level and extent of lesion. Survival of traumatic spinal cord injury patients was approximately 50% that of the general population, and survival of the general population was 80% during the follow-up period.
Conclusion: These results support the need for improvements in long-term rehabilitative care and regular follow-up of patients with traumatic spinal cord injury. The importance of psychosocial follow-up services must be emphasized.

Lay Abstract


Do you want to comment on this paper? The comments will show up here and if appropriate the comments will also separately be forwarded to the authors. You need to login/create an account to comment on articles. Click here to login/create an account.