Employment outcomes of adults who sustained spinal cord injuries as children or adolescents

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2002 Jun;83(6):791-801. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2002.32742.


Objectives: To determine employment outcomes of adults with pediatric-onset spinal cord injury (SCI) and factors associated with those outcomes.

Design: Structured interview, including standardized measures.

Setting: Community.

Participants: Individuals who sustained an SCI at age 18 years or younger, were 24 years or older at follow-up, did not have a significant brain injury, and were living in the United States or Canada. A total of 195 subjects were interviewed. Mean age at injury was 14 years (0-18 y), mean age at interview was 29 years (24-37 y), and mean duration of injury was 15 years (7-28 y). All participants had been enrolled in SCI programs.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: A structured interview, the FIM instrument, the Craig Handicap Assessment and Recording Technique, the Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale.

Results: Of the participants, 99 (51%) were employed, 78 (40%) were unemployed, 12 (6%) were students, and 6 (3%) were homemakers. A predictive model of employment identified 4 factors associated with employment: education, community mobility, functional independence, and decreased medical complications. Other variables significantly associated with employment included community integration, independent driving, independent living, higher income, and life satisfaction.

Conclusions: Compared with the general population, the high rate of unemployment among adults with pediatric-onset SCI is a cause for concern. Risk factors associated with adult unemployment provide guidelines for targeting rehabilitation resources and strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States