Objective: This study compares functional status, quality of life and community integration in 2008 Sichuan earthquake survivors with spinal cord injury at hospital discharge and at 1-year follow-up in the community.
Methods: Twenty-six subjects with spinal cord injury completed demographic and medical questionnaires and underwent medical examination at discharge from a hospital rehabilitation department and after 1 year in the community. Functional status, quality of life and community integration were assessed by appropriate instruments over this period.
Results: Functional status measures showed significantly increased (p < 0.05) scores for the Modified Barthel Index and Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury II; depression and pain scores were reduced with no statistical significance. After discharge, nearly half of patients developed a new pressure sore and most patients had urinary complications. Self-reported quality of life, overall health, and satisfaction with social relationships increased significantly (p < 0.05), while the environment domain was reduced (p < 0.05). Social participation (i.e. community integration) results showed an improvement in physical independence and mobility (p < 0.05), but a decline in cognitive independence (p < 0.05). Only 15% of the population returned to work.
Conclusion: Special attention should be paid to cognitive and emotional function, occupational training and social integration during rehabilitation measures after earthquakes.