Objective: The aim of this study was to identify patient and clinical factors most strongly associated with a spinal cord injury patient's risk for developing a pressure ulcer (PU) during rehabilitation.
Design: This is a prospective observational cohort study conducted at an urban rehabilitation hospital-based specialized spinal cord injury center. The main outcome measure was the onset of a stage 2 or higher PU.
Results: Study patients (N = 159) with new (n = 66) and patients with earlier (n = 99) spinal injuries had identical rates at which they acquired a new PU (stage ≥2) in rehabilitation--13.1%. The patients who came to rehabilitation with a PU or myocutaneous flap exhibited a higher rate of developing yet another PU while in rehabilitation (30.2%) than those who came to rehabilitation without an existing PU or flap (6.9%). Logistic regression analysis identified two variables that best predicted a patient's risk at admission for developing a PU during rehabilitation (c = 0.77)--entering rehabilitation with a PU and admission Functional Independence Measure transfers score of less than 3.5.
Conclusions: The greatest risk of developing a new PU in rehabilitation is being admitted with an existing PU followed by admission Functional Independence Measure transfers score of less than 3.5. Using these two variables, one can develop a patient PU risk algorithm at admission that can alert clinicians for the need to enhance vigilance, skin monitoring, and early patient education.