Study design:Repeated measures, retrospective cohort study.Objectives:To classify specific causes of injury in a cohort of non-traumatic spinal cord injury (NTSCI) patients, with the aim of exploring whether there are differences in demographics or rehabilitation outcomes depending on the cause of NTSCI.Setting:Tertiary care, spinal cord injury rehabilitation unit.Methods:Patients admitted to the unit with a non-traumatic SCI between July 2008 and April 2015 were considered for this study. Demographic information and rehabilitation outcomes were obtained from the Needs Assessment Checklist (NAC). NAC1 is completed within 4 weeks post mobilisation and NAC2 upon the patient moving to the pre-discharge ward. Data were obtained for 265 patients.Results:The most common causes were vertebral column degenerative disorders, infection and vascular disorders, which together accounted for 80% of all NTSCI in this sample. Patients with vertebral column degenerative disorders were less likely to have a complete injury than patients with infections or vascular disorders. There were differences in rehabilitation outcomes on several domains of the NAC. Overall, patients with an SCI caused by an infection have the highest needs (more dependent), and patients with vertebral column degenerative disorders have the lowest needs (more independent).Conclusion:The relationship between non-traumatic cause of injury and rehabilitation outcomes may be mediated by severity of injury. Individuals with infection-related NTSCI are more likely to be complete, therefore, present more significant rehab needs, and lower rehabilitation outcomes particularly in physical health, activities of daily living and bowel management domains. This supports previous findings of Kay et al. and provides a possible explanation for the differences. This further informs future interventions.
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