Spinal cord injury in Italy: A multicenter retrospective study

M. Grazia Celani, Lorenzo Spizzichino, Stefano Ricci, Mauro Zampolini, Marco Franceschini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate certain factors influencing the length of stay (LOS) in a rehabilitation center, the incidence of pressure ulcers, and the neurologic improvement of patients with traumatic (T/SCI) and nontraumatic spinal cord injury (NT/SCI). Design: A multicenter retrospective study of patients with SCI admitted to rehabilitation centers between 1 January 1989 and 31 December 1994 (only first admissions). Setting: Seven Italian rehabilitation centers. Patients: A total of 859 consecutively admitted adult patients with SCI. Intervention: Examined medical records of patients admitted to rehabilitation centers. Main Outcome Measures: Pressure ulcers on admission as an indicator of nursing care in acute phase, LOS in rehabilitation centers, and neurologic improvement on discharge (using the Frankel classification system). Other measures included level of lesion, associated lesions (if T/SCI), surgical stabilization (if T/SCI), and time from the event to admission to a rehabilitation center. Results: In all cases, the time from event to admission to a rehabilitation center exceeded 30 days (average ± standard deviation: T/SCI, 54.6 ± 43.7d; NT/SCI, 166.9 ± 574d); pressure ulcers on admission were present in 34.1% of T/SCI and 17.1% of NT/SCI patients. The average LOS in a rehabilitation center was 143.1 ± 89.1 days for T/SCI and 91.7 ± 78.9 days for NT/SCI; Frankel grades improved by 1 or more in 34.4% of T/SCI and 34.1% of NT/SCI patients. The presence of pressure ulcers on admission, rehabilitation LOS, and neurologic improvement on discharge correlated highly with severe neurologic damage on admission in both T/SCI and NT/SCI patients as well as with management of the patient immediately before admission to a rehabilitation center, mainly in NT/SCI patients. Conclusions: Severe neurologic damage is the major determining factor in predicting neurologic recovery. Pressure ulcer prevention is statistically associated with neurologic improvement and the shortening of rehabilitation LOS. Patient management immediately before admission to rehabilitation has a statistical correlation with neurologic improvement in all patients studied and on both rehabilitation LOS and incidence of pressure ulcers in the NT/SCI patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-596
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Italy
  • Length of stay
  • Neurologic improvement
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Spinal cord injury in Italy: A multicenter retrospective study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this