International comparison of the organisation of rehabilitation services and systems of care for patients with spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord. 2013 Jan;51(1):33-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2012.82. Epub 2012 Jul 17.


Study design: Survey.

Objectives: Describe and compare the organisation and delivery of rehabilitation services and systems of care for patients with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Setting: International. Nine spinal rehabilitation units that manage traumatic SCI and non-traumatic SCI (NTSCI) patients.

Methods: Survey based on clinical expertise and literature review. Completed between November 2010 and April 2011.

Results: All units reported public/government funding. Additional funding sources included compensation schemes, private insurance and self funding. Six units had formal attachment to an acute SCI unit. Five units (Italy, Ireland, India, Pakistan and Switzerland) provided a national service; two units (the Netherlands and USA) provided regional and two units (Australia and Canada) provided state/provincial services. The median number of SCI rehabilitation beds was 23 (interquartile range=16-30). All units admitted both traumatic SCI and NTSCI patients. The median proportion of patients admitted who had traumatic SCI was 45% (IQR 20-48%) and 40% (IQR 30-42%) had NTSCI. The rehabilitation team in all centres determined patient readiness for discharge. There was great variability between units in the availability of SCI speciality services, ancillary services and staff/patient ratios.

Conclusion: There was a wide range of differences in the organisation, systems of care and services available for patients with SCI in rehabilitation units in different countries. Understanding these differences is important when comparing patient outcomes from different settings. A standardised collection of these system variables should be considered as part of future studies and could be included in the ISCoS data set project.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • National Health Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Physical Therapists / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Improvement
  • Rehabilitation Centers / organization & administration*
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / statistics & numerical data
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / nursing
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urodynamics
  • Workforce