Content » Vol 48, Issue 10

Original report

Secondary health conditions and quality of life in persons living with spinal cord injury for at least ten years

Jacinthe J.E. Adriaansen, Laura E. M. Ruijs, Casper F. van Koppenhagen, Floris W.A. van Asbeck, Govert J. Snoek, Dirk van Kuppevelt, Johanna M.A. Visser-Meily, Marcel W.M. Post
Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience and Center of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht and De Hoogstraat Rehabilitation, Utrecht, The Netherlands
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2166


Objectives: To describe the prevalence of secondary health conditions among persons with long-term spinal cord injury, and the relationship between these secondary health conditions and quality of life.
Design: Multicentre, cross-sectional study.
Subjects: Individuals (n = 282) with traumatic or non-traumatic spinal cord injury for ≥ 10 years, age at injury 18–35 years, current age 28–65 years, and using a wheelchair.
Methods: Occurrence of 13 secondary health conditions was assessed during a consultation with a rehabilitation physician. Quality of life was measured with the International Spinal Cord Injury Quality of Life Basic Data Set.
Results: Median time since injury was 22. 0 years. Median number of secondary health conditions was 4. The most prevalent secondary health conditions were: musculoskeletal pain (63. 5%), oedema (38. 7%), neuropathic pain (34. 1%) and urinary tract infections (33. 3%). Only oedema showed a significant association with increasing time since injury. Median Total Quality of Life Basic Data Set score was 7. Musculoskeletal pain, pressure ulcers, problematic spasticity and constipation showed an independent association with quality of life in multiple regression analysis, but in general, these associations were weak.
Conclusion: Secondary health conditions are common among persons with long-term spinal cord injury and the following secondary health conditions were independently associated with lower quality of life: musculoskeletal pain, pressure ulcers, problematic spasticity, and constipation. Minimizing the impact of secondary health conditions should be a priority in the long-term care of persons with spinal cord injury.

Lay Abstract


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