Study design: Cohort study.
Objectives: To provide recent estimates of the incidence of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) in adults living in Ontario.
Setting: Ontario, Canada.
Methods: The study included all men and women aged 18 years and older living in Ontario. The two primary data sources used for this study were the census data provided by Statistics Canada and the hospital Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) provided by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Incidence was estimated for the fiscal years 2003/04-2006/07, and examined by age, gender, mechanism and seasonality of injury, the level of injury, the presence of comorbidity and in-hospital mortality.
Results: The incident cases had a mean age of 51.3 years (s.d. 20.1). The majority of the cases was male (74.1%) and had a cervical SCI caused by falls (49.5%). The age-adjusted incidence rate was stable over the 4-year study period, from 24.2 per million (95% CI: 21.2-27.6) in 2003 to 23.1 per million (95% CI: 20.2-26.3) in 2006.
Conclusion: Despite worldwide trends that have indicated motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) as the leading cause of injury, falls emerged as the leading cause of traumatic SCI in this study. This finding, and the fact that the number of fall-induced injuries increased steadily with age, may indicate that there is growing concern for the consequences of falls in the elderly. Further work is needed to understand this trend in age and gender and the causes of falls to develop effective fall prevention strategies.