Nontraumatic Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: Pressure Ulcer Patterns, Prediction, and Impact

Peter W. New, H. Barry Rawicki, Michael J. Bailey

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Objective: To investigate the characteristics, predictors, and consequences of pressure ulcers in patients with nontraumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Retrospective, 3-year, case series. Setting: Tertiary medical unit specializing in SCI rehabilitation. Participants: Consecutive sample of 134 adult inpatient referrals with nontraumatic SCI. Patients requiring initial rehabilitation or readmission were included. Intervention: Chart review. Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcome measures were presence of pressure ulcers on admission to rehabilitation, incidence of new pressure ulcers developing during hospitalization, and any complications attributable to pressure ulcers during inpatient rehabilitation. Secondary objectives were to examine the predictability of risk factors for pressure ulcers, to assess the usefulness of a model previously developed for predicting pressure ulcers in patients with chronic SCI, and to estimate the effect of pressure ulcers on rehabilitation of nontraumatic SCI. Results: Prevalence of pressure ulcers among admissions was 31.3% (n=42). Only 2.2% (n=3) of patients developed a new pressure ulcer after admission. The length of stay (LOS) of patients admitted with a pressure ulcer was significantly longer than that of those without a pressure ulcer (geometric mean, 62.3d for pressure ulcer vs 28.2d for no pressure ulcer, P=.0001). Many previously identified risk factors for pressure ulcers in SCI patients did not apply to our nontraumatic SCI patients. It is estimated that the inpatient LOS for those patients with a significant pressure ulcer was increased by 42 days. Conclusions: Pressure ulcers are a common complication for people with nontraumatic SCI who are admitted for rehabilitation, and they have a significant impact on LOS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Decubitus ulcer
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord diseases
  • Spinal cord injuries

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