Incidence and prevalence of spinal cord injury in Canada: a national perspective

Neuroepidemiology. 2012;38(4):219-26. doi: 10.1159/000336014. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Background: Despite decades of research, there are no national estimates of the incidence or prevalence of spinal cord injury (SCI) in Canada. Our objective was to utilize the best available data to estimate the incidence and prevalence of traumatic SCI (TSCI) and non-traumatic SCI (NTSCI) in Canada for 2010.

Methods: Initial incidence (number of TSCIs at injury scene) and discharge incidence (number discharged into the community) were calculated using published TSCI rates from Alberta and NTSCI rates from Australia. Prevalence was estimated by applying TSCI and NTSCI discharge incidence rates to historical Canadian population demographics using a cohort survival model and age-specific mortality rates for tetraplegia and paraplegia.

Results: The estimated 2010 initial incidence of TSCI is 1,785 cases per year, and the discharge incidence is 1,389 (41 per million). The estimated discharge incidence for NTSCI is 2,286 cases (68 per million). The prevalence of SCI in Canada is estimated to be 85,556 persons (51% TSCI and 49% NTSCI).

Conclusions: This study provides the first estimates of the incidence and prevalence of SCI in Canada. More population-based studies are needed, particularly for NTSCI, as an increasing number of Canadians are expected to be affected by SCI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quadriplegia / epidemiology*
  • Quadriplegia / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / etiology
  • Young Adult