Males 15-24 hit hardest by spinal cord injuries

There were 272 new cases of persisting traumatic spinal cord injury in 2006-07, with the highest case count among males in the 15-24 years age group, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'Male rates of persisting spinal cord injury (SCI) from traumatic causes were higher than female rates at all ages under 65 years,' said Institute spokesperson Dr Sophie Pointer.

Transport-related injuries (52%) and falls (29%) accounted for 81% of SCI cases.

About 78% of the transport-related SCI injuries cases were caused by traffic accidents - 110 cases in total.

Of those transport-related cases, 65 were vehicle occupants and 49 were unprotected road users, predominately motorcyclists.

There were 11 more cases of spinal cord injury caused by motorcyclist traffic accidents in 2006-07 than there were the previous year (37 compared to 26).

There were 17 fewer fall injury cases of SCI in 2006-07 than in the previous year (78 compared to 95).

About half the falls resulting in SCI were from a height of 1 metre or more, but many falls occurred from a height of less than 1 metre or on the same level.

Falls on the same level, or from less than 1 metre, led to 40 spinal cord injury cases. Almost 60%of these involved people aged 65 years or older.

According to the report, Spinal cord injury, Australia, 2006-07, water-related accidents accounted for fewer than 10% of cases, and accidents from sporting activities also made up fewer than 10% of cases.

Fourteen per cent of the SCI cases occurred while working for income.

In addition to the 272 cases due to trauma, there were an additional 76 new cases of persisting SCI that were due to disease.

Spinal Cord Injury, Australia 2006-07 is the 12th statistical report based on case registration data holdings of the Australian Spinal Cord Injury Register. The Register is operated by the AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit in collaboration with State spinal units.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Further information: Dr Sophie Pointer, mob. 0414 605 311.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.