The changing demographics of traumatic spinal cord injury in Beijing, China: a single-centre report of 2448 cases over 7 years


Study design

Retrospective study.


To investigate the epidemiological changes in persons with traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) over the past 7 years in Beijing Bo’ai Hospital, China Rehabilitation Research Center, China.


Beijing Bo’ai Hospital, China Rehabilitation Research Center (CRRC).


A database containing the records of all persons treated with SCI from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2019 was reviewed. Variables including demographic and clinical data were analysed. Comparisons were made with data previously published in 2002.


During the study period, 2448 persons with recent TSCI were included in the analysis. The mean age at the time of injury increased from 38.1 years to 40.2 years (P = 0.025). The percentage of elderly persons increased (8.8–14.6%, P = 0.036) and was higher than that in 2002. The percentage of retirees increased. Transport related injuries were the leading cause of injury and the percentage of TSCI due to low falls increased 6%. Low falls were the most common cause for elderly persons (y ≥ 60) and were even higher for elderly women. Persons with cervical injuries increased compared to the 2002-data (44.1% vs 4.9%). The percentage of persons with incomplete SCI increased significantly over the study duration.


Persons with TSCI are becoming older, and the percentage of elderly persons is increasing year by year. These changes are likely due to a combination of population ageing in the region and changes in aetiology, with corresponding changes including an increase in persons with cervical TSCI and persons with incomplete injury.

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Fig. 1: Selection of persons with TSCI for the study cohort.
Fig. 2: Proportion of women and changes in sex among persons with TSCI relative to age.
Fig. 3: Distribution line chart for aetiology according to age.


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We are deeply grateful to Pengkun Li of medical record statistics room for his assistance of collection data.


This study was supported by grants from China Rehabilitation Research Center (No. 2019ZX-04); National Key Research and Development Program (No. 2018YFF0301104).

Author information




HL was responsible for convening researchers, collecting, aggregating and analysing data, interpreting results and writing the report. JL and MS were responsible for collecting and analysing data. XY was responsible for the statistical analysis and graphing. LD and MY contributed to the design of the study protocol and interpreting results. JL and FG contributed to writing the report, providing important references and interpreting results. JL was responsible for designing and writing the study protocol and interpreting results. He is the corresponding author. All authors approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jianjun Li.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Approval from the hospital ethics committee was obtained before commencing the study (No. CRRC-IEC-RF-SC-005-01).

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Liu, H., Liu, J., Shen, M. et al. The changing demographics of traumatic spinal cord injury in Beijing, China: a single-centre report of 2448 cases over 7 years. Spinal Cord (2020).

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