Trends and Disparities in Inpatient Rehabilitation of Adolescents: The Effect of Demographics, Injury Characteristics, and Facility Type

Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2022 Winter;28(1):13-20. doi: 10.46292/sci21-00033. Epub 2022 Jan 19.


Background: Intensive rehabilitation of adolescents occurs in general and pediatric inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), but differences in admission and outcomes by facility type have not been thoroughly investigated, particularly among persons with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Objectives: To investigate factors related to admission to pediatric or adult IRFs among adolescents and compare the rehabilitation outcomes between facility types.

Methods: Using a single-center retrospective cohort study design, demographic information, medical data, and rehabilitation outcomes were obtained by chart review of patients aged 15 to 18 years who received a rehabilitation medicine consultation at an urban level 1 trauma center between 2017 and 2019 (N = 96). Analysis was performed using R statistical software.

Results: SCI was the second most common diagnosis (21% of patients) and accounted for 36% of inpatient rehabilitation admissions. SCI patients were more likely to undergo rehabilitation at the level 1 trauma versus pediatric facility (relative risk [RR] = 2.43; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08-5.44) compared to traumatic brain injury patients. Admission to trauma versus pediatric IRF was also associated with Black compared to White race (RR = 2.5; CI = 1.12-5.56), violence compared to other etiologies of injury (RR = 2.0; CI = 1.10-3.77), and Medicaid compared to private insurance (RR = 2.15; CI = 1.01-4.59). Admission to pediatric IRF was associated with longer length of stay than admission to adult IRF when adjusted for diagnosis (30.86 ± 21.82 vs. 24.33 ± 18.17 days; p = .046), but Functional Independence Measures did not differ.

Conclusion: Adolescents with SCI and those experiencing systemic disadvantages, including racism and poverty, were more likely to be admitted to trauma compared to pediatric IRF.

Keywords: adolescent; health disparities; inpatient rehabilitation; violence-related injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Demography
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Length of Stay
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Injuries*