Sports-related spinal cord injury in Japan (from the nationwide spinal cord injury registry between 1990 and 1992)

Spinal Cord. 1996 Jul;34(7):416-21. doi: 10.1038/sc.1996.74.


The Injury Prevention Committee of the Japan Medical Society of Paraplegia (JMSoP) conducted a nationwide epidemiological survey on spinal cord injury (SCI) using postal questionnaires for 3 years periods from 1990 to 1992, and the annual incidence of the spinal cord injury was estimated as 40.2 per million. From this registry, we investigated SCI related to sports activities. In 3 years, 528 patients were registered and 374 of them had neurological deficits. The incidence was 1.95 per million per annum. Mean age at injury was 28.5 years (10-77), and 88.1% of the patients were males. Diving was the commonest cause of SCI (21.6%), which was followed by skiing (13.4%), football including rugby, American football and soccer (12.7%), sky sports (7.0%), judo (6.8%) and gymnastics (6.6%). Mean age at injury was higher than 30 years in skiing (38.6 years) and sky sports (38.2 years). Cervical injury was predominant in all but sky sports and accounted for 83.5% of SCI. Motor complete paralysis was reported in 35.0% of the patients. Bony injury was observed in 55.9% of the patients; most of the patients who sustained the SCI in diving and sky sports had bony injury, and no bony injury was detected in more than a half of the patients who sustained injuries in skiing, judo or gymnastics. Although the percentage of sports-related SCI was small in the present study as compared to the data from previous reports, it is not difficult to imagine the increase in the number of sports-related SCI. We have launched an injury prevention campaign and are planning to conduct a similar study in future to evaluate the effect of the campaign as well as the changes in the incidence and pattern of SCI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Automobile Driving
  • Aviation
  • Child
  • Female
  • Football / injuries
  • Gymnastics / injuries
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paralysis / epidemiology
  • Paralysis / etiology
  • Skiing / injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wrestling / injuries