Medical rehabilitation of spinal cord injury following earthquakes in rehabilitation resource-scarce settings: implications for disaster research

Spinal Cord. 2013 Aug;51(8):603-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2013.50. Epub 2013 Jun 11.


Study design: Narrative literature review.

Objectives: To (1) summarize epidemiological and scientific research on spinal cord injury (SCI) populations from three severe earthquakes (EQs) in rehabilitation resource-scarce settings; (2) summarize SCI rehabilitation services by local and foreign providers in response to these EQs and (3) provide implications including research gaps for a supporting global scientific research agenda.

Setting: International.

Methods: A literature review was conducted using PubMed to identify epidemiological studies reporting data on SCI survivors of the 2005 Kashmir EQ in Pakistan, the Sichuan EQ of 2008 in China and the 2010 Haiti EQ. A follow-up review on the SCI rehabilitation services provided by local and foreign providers in response to these EQs was also performed.

Results: Review of the scientific literature revealed the qualitative trends in focused EQ victim epidemiological data, including SCI classification and types of medical complications. Selected EQ country narratives showed that post-disaster SCI rehabilitation services were expanded by adapting local resources with international assistance to manage the significant numbers of SCI survivors. The resulting SCI research was limited.

Conclusion: A global disaster research agenda for SCI in EQs in rehabilitation resource-scarce settings is needed to strengthen the evidence base for improvement of clinical management and outcomes for SCI EQ survivors. Expansion of this limited narrative review into a systematic review to identify additional research gaps is a proposed next step. Effective disaster setting data management and research collaborations of foreign and local SCI disability and rehabilitation stakeholders will be required for agenda implementation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disasters*
  • Earthquakes*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*