Medical rehabilitation length of stay and outcomes for persons with traumatic spinal cord injury - 1990-1997

Elizabeth A. Eastwood, Kristofer J. Hagglund, Kristjan T. Ragnarsson, Wayne A. Gordon, Ralph J. Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe changes in acute and rehabilitation length of stay (LOS) for persons with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), describe predictors of LOS, and explore year-1 anniversary medical and social outcomes. Design: Longitudinal, exploratory study of patients with SCI. Setting: Eighteen Model Spinal Cord Injury Centers across the United States. Sample: A total of 3,904 persons discharged from the Model Systems between 1990 and 1997 who had follow-up interviews at 1 year postinjury. Main Outcome Measures: Rehabilitation LOS; injury anniversary year-1 presence of pressure ulcers; incidence of rehospitalization; community or institutional residence; and days per week out of residence. Results: Acute rehabilitation LOS declined from 74 days to 60 days. Discharges to nursing homes and rehospitalizations increased between 1990 and 1997. Linear regression showed that lower admission motor Functional Independence Measure (FIM) scores, year of discharge from the Model System, method of bladder management, tetraplegia, race, education, marital status, discharge disposition, and age were related to longer LOS. At first anniversary, logistic regressions revealed that lower discharge motor FIM, injury level, and age were related to the presence of pressure ulcers, rehospitalization, residence, and time spent out of residence. Of those discharged to nursing homes, 44% returned to home by year 1, and these individuals had higher functional status and were younger. Discussion: High functional status is associated with shorter LOS, discharge to the community, and time spent out of residence, indicating efficiency in the system. For 44.4% of individuals one or more of the following outcomes were observed by first year anniversary: rehospitalization; residing in a skilled nursing facility; having pressure ulcers; or infrequently leaving one's residence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1463
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1999


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