This prospective epidemiological survey of spinal cord injury (SCI) in Taiwan was carried out among patients attended by physicians from various medical centers and general hospitals all over Taiwan from July 1992 to June 1996. In all, 1,586 new cases of SCI were registered, representing about 70% of all possible SGI cases in Taiwan. The observed average annual incidence of SCI in Taiwan was 18.8 per million people, whereas it was 47.5 for the geriatric section. The mean age was 46.1 years with a plateau distribution after 20 years and older. Geriatric victims (297 cases, 18.7%, group II) formed a major section of SCI cases in Taiwan. Another group of younger SCI patients (15–64 years old, 1,232 cases, group I) was selected for comparison. The results showed that the male-to-female ratio, pattern of neurological deficits, and causes of injury and death of geriatric SCI patients differed significantly from those of the younger SCI group. Elderly women were exposed to a higher risk of SCI than younger women (M/F ratio 1.7:1). Falls were the leading cause of geriatric SCI, and two thirds of them occurred on level ground. Traffic accidents accounted for a third of SCI cases, half of which involved motorcycle accidents, a fifth of them pedestrians. Quadriplegia and quadriparesis occurred more frequently among elderly cases of SCI than in the younger group and a higher proportion of them died of SCI complications. Two thirds of elderly SCI patients recovered well enough after comprehensive treatment to be able to take care of themselves at home. The government should initiate programs of prevention to reduce the prevalence of geriatric SCI in Taiwan.

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