The Changing Nature of Admissions to a Spinal Cord Injury Center: Violence on the Rise

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The purpose of this study was to analyze changing etiologies for admission to a spinal cord injury center. This study was designed to retrospectively analyze the etiology of admissions to a spinal cord injury center during a 15-year period, specifically gunshot versus nongunshot wound injuries. Gunshot wounds are a well-recognized cause of spinal cord injury. In some centers, up to 52% of admissions are due to this, and these trends are believed to be increasing. All patients with spinal cord injury admitted to our center between 1979 and 1993 were analyzed. Frequencies of specific etiologies were determined and then comparisons were made between gunshot wound and nongunshot wound groups. Factors analyzed included age, male/female ratio, ethnic make-up, marital status, employment status, level of injury, and neurologic status. One thousand eight hundred seventeen patients were included. Overall, gunshot wound spinal cord injuries compromised 16.9% of injuries. A clear trend of increasing numbers of admissions was seen between 1984 and 1993 because of this. Gunshot wounds and nongunshot wounds differed dramatically in terms of age, ethnic make-up, marital status, employment status, and neurologic status. Cost attributed to treating gunshot wound injuries at our center for 1993 was 5.4 million dollars. Gunshot wounds as a cause of spinal cord injury are increasing at an alarming rate. The demographics of the gunshot wounds and nongunshot wound spine cord injuries differ significantly.

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