Estimating the global incidence of traumatic spinal cord injury

Michael Fitzharris, Raymond Cripps, B Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)


    Study design:Population modelling-forecasting.Objectives:To estimate the global incidence of traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI).Setting:An initiative of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) Prevention Committee.Methods: Regression techniques were used to derive regional and global estimates of TSCI incidence. Using the findings of 31 published studies, a regression model was fitted using a known number of TSCI cases as the dependent variable and the population at risk as the single independent variable. In the process of deriving TSCI incidence, an alternative TSCI model was specified in an attempt to arrive at an optimal way of estimating the global incidence of TSCI.Results:The global incidence of TSCI was estimated to be 23 cases per 1 000 000 persons in 2007 (179 312 cases per annum). World Health Organization's regional results are provided.Discussion:Understanding the incidence of TSCI is important for health service planning and for the determination of injury prevention priorities. In the absence of high-quality epidemiological studies of TSCI in each country, the estimation of TSCI obtained through population modelling can be used to overcome known deficits in global spinal cord injury (SCI) data. The incidence of TSCI is context specific, and an alternative regression model demonstrated how TSCI incidence estimates could be improved with additional data. The results highlight the need for data standardisation and comprehensive reporting of national level TSCI data. A step-wise approach from the collation of conventional epidemiological data through to population modelling is suggested.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)117-122
    Number of pages6
    JournalSpinal Cord
    Issue numberFeb.
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • epidemiology
    • forecasting
    • incidence
    • population modelling
    • traumatic spinal cord injury


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