Long-term incidence studies are required to identify high-risk groups, establish trends, and forecast needs, and thus contribute to health care planning in spinal cord injury (SCI). This study aimed to determine the incidence of traumatic SCI over a 36-year period in Aragón, Spain, and compare rates with other published European estimates. Hospital records from the Servet Hospital, the only specialized SCI unit in the region, of a retrospective cohort with traumatic SCI between January 1972 and December 2008 were reviewed. Specification of SCI patient demographics, injury causes, and related factors was achieved by utilizing medical records available for inpatients, hospital archives, and central databases. A total of 540 cases were reported over the 36-year study period (79% were male). The age-and sex-adjusted incidence rate was 15.5 per million population (18.8 for males and 4.9 for females). Two incidence peaks were suggested, in the 20-to 29-year and 60-to 69-year age groups. Traffic accidents and falls were the main causes of injury. The highest peak occurs in young adults, mainly caused by traffic accidents. The majority of the lesions were at cervical or thoracic level, and ASIA grade A was most frequently observed. The proportion of SCI cases in persons older than 60 years, mostly due to falls, is increasing. The age-adjusted incidence rates found for the region of Aragón in Spain fall within the range of other published European estimates. Comparative epidemiological features for 2001-2008 suggest that there is room for prevention.
- spinal cord injury