• Print

released: 22 Jan 2009 author: Cripps R media release

Severe spinal cord injury (SCI) is a very debilitating and costly injury. This report presents information from the Australian Spinal Cord Injury Register (ASCIR) on 348 newly incident cases from trauma and disease in 2006-07. During the year, 272 new cases of SCI from traumatic causes were registered in Australia, an age-adjusted incidence rate of 14.9 cases per million population. The most common clinical outcome of SCI from traumatic causes was incomplete tetraplegia (98 cases). Transport related injuries (52%) and falls (29%) accounted for over three-quarters of the 271 cases of traumatic SCI (one case under the age of 15 years was excluded from these analyses). Cases also occurred during sport (n = 21) and working for income, including travel to and from work (n = 37). Falling was the most common type of event leading to traumatic SCI at older ages. The ASCIR is a collaborative activity of the AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit and all of the specialist spinal units in Australia.

ISSN 1444-3791; ISBN 978 1 74024 818 1; Cat. no. INJCAT 119; 44pp.; Internet only


The report Spinal cord injury, Australia, 2006-07, presents national statistics on spinal cord injury using data from the 2006-07 reporting period.

The number and rate of new cases of persisting Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) due to traumatic causes in the Australian population have changed very little since the previous annual report. Overall, a total of 348 newly incident cases of SCI were reported in 2006-07. Two hundred and seventy-two cases were due to trauma and another 76 new cases of SCI were due to disease, not trauma. One case involved a person under the age of 15 and was excluded from some further analysis. The age-adjusted rate of persisting SCI from traumatic causes was estimated to be 14.9 new cases per million population aged 15 years and older, slightly lower, but not significantly different from 2005-06 reporting period (15.7 cases per million population).

State and territory age-adjusted three-year annual average incident rates remained similar to rates in the 2005-06 report.

The highest case count and age-specific rate occurred in the age group 15-24 years. Male rates of persisting SCI from traumatic causes were higher than female rates at all ages. The distribution by age differed from the previous report with the rise in male cases seen after the 45-54 year age group in 2005-06 replaced with an overall decline until 65 years and older.

Transport-related injuries (52%) and falls (29%) accounted for over three-quarters of the 271 cases of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) during 2006-07.

In the transport-related group, 78% of the SCI cases were caused by traffic accidents (110 cases). Sixty five of the transport related cases were vehicle occupants and 49 were unprotected road users, predominately motorcyclists (76%).

The number of motorcyclist cases (traffic) in 2006-07 (37) was greater in number than in the previous year (26). Motorcyclists in the 15-44 year age group (n = 27) represented 73%of all motorcycle cases at all ages.

Falls led to 78 cases of persisting spinal cord injury in 2006-07, lower than the number in the previous year (95). Approximately one half of these were falls from a height of 1 metre or higher (n = 38). Falls on the same level or from less than 1 metre led to spinal cord injury in 40 cases, 58% of these involving people aged 65 years or older.

Recommended citation

Cripps R 2009. Spinal cord injury, Australia, 2006-07. Injury research and statistics series no. 48. Cat. no. INJCAT 119. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 30 June 2017 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468201>.

Request an alternative format

Please contact us if you need information from the website presented in an alternative format for accessibility reasons.