A retrospective review of lower extremity fracture care in patients with spinal cord injury

Titilola Akhigbe, Amy S. Chin, Jelena N. Svircev, Helen Hoenig, Stephen P. Burns, Frances M. Weaver, Lauren Bailey, Laura Carbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Context/Objective: To identify circumstances surrounding incident lower extremity fractures (ILEFs) in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) and to describe the impact of these fractures on service needs and provision of pharmacological therapies for osteoporosis. Design: Retrospective medical record review. Setting: Four Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in the USA. Participants: One hundred and forty patients with traumatic SCI who sustained an ILEF from 2002 to 2007. Outcome measures: Fracture circumstances and use of assistive devices were described using percentages, means, and standard deviations. Fisher's exact test was used to determine the relationship between fracture site, and patient age and duration of SCI. Differences in pharmacological provision of therapies for osteoporosis pre- And post-fracture were examined using exact McNemar's test. Results: One hundred and fifty-five ILEFs were identified in 140 patients. Tibia/fibula and femur fractures were the most common fractures. Fracture site was not related to patient's age or duration of SCI. Almost one-third of all fractures occurred during transfers to and from wheelchairs. Post-fracture, the provision of new or modified assistive devices, primarily wheelchairs, was frequent, occurring in 83% of patients in the year post-fracture. Few patients transferred residence to a nursing home following the fracture. There was a significant difference in the use of pharmacological therapies for osteoporosis in the first year post-fracture compared with the year prior to the fracture (P < 0.01), with significant differences in the volume of prescriptions for calcium supplements (P < 0.01) and bisphosphonates (P = 0.02). Overall, the amount of prescriptions for osteoporosis increased the year post-fracture (56%) from the year pre-fracture (39%); this increase was secondary to increases in prescriptions for calcium supplements (pre = 13%; post = 30%) and bisphosphonates (pre = 2%; post = 7%). Conclusions: We have identified that wheelchair and other transfer activities are a key area that could be a focus of fracture prevention in SCI. The need for new or modified assistive devices and/or wheelchair skills retraining post-fracture should be anticipated. Examination of whether treatments for osteoporosis following a fracture can prevent future osteoporotic fractures is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-9
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Lower extremity fractures
  • Osteoporosis therapies
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Wheelchairs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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