COVID-19 and spinal cord injury and disease: results of an international survey as the pandemic progresses

Spinal Cord Ser Cases. 2021 Feb 12;7(1):13. doi: 10.1038/s41394-020-00356-4.


Study design: An online survey.

Objectives: To follow-up with and re-query the international spinal cord community's response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by revisiting questions posed in a previous survey and investigating new lines of inquiry.

Setting: An international collaboration of authors and participants.

Methods: Two identical surveys (one in English and one in Spanish) were distributed via the internet. Responses from both surveys were pooled and analyzed for demographic and response data.

Results: Three hundred and sixty-six respondents were gathered from multiple continents and regions. The majority (63.1%) were rehabilitation physicians and only 12.1% had patients with spinal cord injury/disease (SCI/D) that they knew had COVID-19. Participants reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused limited access to clinician and support services and worsening medical complications. Nearly 40% of inpatient clinicians reported that "some or all" of their facilities' beds were being used by medical and surgical patients, rather than by individuals requiring inpatient rehabilitation. Respondents reported a 25.1% increase in use of telemedicine during the pandemic (35% used it before; 60.1% during), though over 60% felt the technology incompletely met their patients' needs.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the ability of individuals with SCI/D to obtain their "usual level of care." Moving forward into a potential "second wave" of COVID-19, patient advocacy and efforts to secure access to thorough and accessible care are essential.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurological Rehabilitation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*