This is a review of the total care of those acute spinal cord injury patients in Ontario during the years 1969 and 1970, from extrication and transportation following the accident to death, or the completion of primary definitive rehabilitation.
Information was extracted from the available ambulance records, the patients and many of the responsible physicians were interviewed personally. The study was detailed and intensive and included a review of each patient's hospital records in each hospital up to discharge from the rehabilitation programme into the community, or to a chronic care unit. The data was compiled in accordance with a detailed and lengthy questionnaire developed for this study.
The incidence of acute cord injuries in Ontario in 1969 and 1970 amounted to 244; in 1969, 15.9 per million population and in 1970, 13.6 per million. As in other studies road accidents took first place, followed by falls from a height; sports injuries ranked third and 65.7% of these were caused by diving into shallow water. Age incidence, and incidence by month, day of week and time of day were identified. Fridays and Saturday afternoons in July and August are particularly hazardous.
The study continued to the end of 1974 by which time 34 deaths had been recorded. Peak incidence of death occurred within fourteen days of injury. The most common cause of death was respiratory in origin.
Geographical distribution was identified and the type of hospital treating the acutely injured patient.
Fourteen percent of persons with spinal column injury suffered progressive or sequential spinal cord damage both prior to and following medical contact. The incidence of pressure sores and genitourinary sepsis and calculosis was high in all types of hospitals. The effect of operative treatment was noted in the cases of complete quadriplegia and paraplegia.
Of the 133 survivors who undertook a rehabilitation program, 84% returned to their homes and 59% achieved gainful employment or ongoing education.
The cost was determined of general hospital services and rehabilitation programmes.
A new model for the care of the spinal cord injury patients in Ontario was proposed.