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Published results showed one-third of patients with sports-related trauma discharged to rehabilitation had traumatic spinal injuries, with cycling injuries reported as the most common mechanism of injury.

Blake M. Hauser, BSPH, MPhil, and colleagues performed a retrospective cohort analysis of data from adult patients who experienced sports-related traumatic spinal injuries, including spinal fractures and spinal cord injuries, from 2011 through 2014. Researchers considered discharge disposition, accounting for both the setting where the patient was discharged and any requirement for rehabilitation, as the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included the requirement for spinal surgery, requirement for ICU admission, length of hospital stay and death during the documented initial hospitalization. Researchers used multiple imputation for missing data, and estimated multivariable linear and logistic regression models.

Among the 12,031 cases of traumatic spinal injury included in the study, results showed 82% of the patients were male and the most frequent mechanisms of injury were cycling injuries (81%), skiing and snowboarding accidents (12%), aquatic sports injuries (3%) and contact sports (3%). Researchers found 9.1% of patients with traumatic spinal injury required spinal surgery during initial hospitalization.

Researchers noted patients with traumatic spinal injuries had an average 2.3-day increase in length of stay and discharge to or with rehabilitative services compared with patients with non-traumatic spinal injury sports-related trauma. According to results, 32% of cases of traumatic spinal injuries among sports injuries led to discharge to or with rehabilitative services.

Researchers found 15% of patients with traumatic spinal injury also had spinal cord injuries. Results showed sports-related traumatic spinal injuries had a rate of spinal cord injury of 13% for cycling injuries, 41% for contact sports injuries and 49% for aquatic sports injuries. Patients with spinal cord injuries had a longer length of stay and a higher likelihood of adverse discharge disposition vs. patients with traumatic spinal injuries without spinal cord injuries, according to researchers.

“Additional research is required to fully understand the implications of these findings, as well as how best to prevent sports-related traumatic spine injuries, in adults,” Hauser told Healio Orthopedics. “However, it is clear that these injuries can have potentially devastating consequences for patients, and improving policies and education regarding participant safety may prove to be effective interventions. Counseling adult patients about safety measures might also help to prevent sports-related injuries and could merit further research.”

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