OBJECTIVES : To describe the demographic and socio-economic profiles, and injury related characteristics of people who sustain SCIs in KZN in order to provide baseline information to instigate a model that guides employment outcomes amongst PLWSCI.
DESIGN : Retrospective analysis of medical files was done.
SETTING : King Dinizulu Hospital Spinal Unit (KDHSU), this being the biggest provider of acute care for people who sustain SCI in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Provinces, South Africa was the setting for our study.
PARTICIPANTS : Medical files of individuals who sustained SCI between 2009 and 2012 were perused (n = 1049) were perused and 188 met the inclusion criteria.
OUTCOME MEASURES : Key information from the KDHSU patient’s files were extracted using a tool developed using literature and the international spinal cord injury core data set.
RESULTS : The average annual incidence rate was 12.3 per 100 000 population. The male to female ratio was 6:4 with the mean age of 36.69 years, ranging from 16-64. Out of those employed (34%), 72% were working fulltime, mostly in the service industry (31%) and 59% were classified as laborers. The majority (61%) of the participants completed high school. The major cause of SCI was non-traumatic (54%) and 66% were classified as incomplete (ASIA). Furthermore, 80% were classified as paraplegia and 19% tetraplegia. The mean LOS was 42.9 days, ranging from 1-764 days, influenced by level of injury, completeness and classification of injury and surgical intervention.
CONCLUSION : The profile of SCI in KwaZulu-Natal is slightly different when compared to other provinces in South Africa and the rest of Africa. There is a need to use epidemiological information (including factors that influence employment) to develop rehabilitation models to guide employment outcomes amongst people living with spinal cord injuries in KZN.