Geriatric spinal cord injuries increase

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 16, 2007

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The number of people older than 70 seeking care for injuries to the spinal cord has grown significantly, according to a study presented at a meeting of the American Assn. of Neurological Surgeons' Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves in Phoenix last month.

Researchers analyzed data on 3,483 patients treated at the Delaware Valley Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. From 1978 to 2006, overall admissions increased by 60%, but the rate for older patients increased by 580%. Geriatric patients were less likely to have severe neurological defects but had higher rates of mortality, both during hospitalization and within one year of discharge.

The authors suggest that this increase may be caused by the aging of the population and the fact that this age group is more vulnerable to this kind of trauma than those who are younger. They also advocate that age be taken into account when deciding on treatment.

"The mortality of these patients is much greater than younger patients and should be factored in when considering aggressive interventions and counseling families regarding prognosis," said James Harrop, MD, one of the authors and assistant professor of neurological and orthopedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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