Return to work after spinal cord injury: a Singaporean pilot community-based rehabilitation program


Study design

Retrospective analysis of data collected as part of a pilot program.


The primary objective of our study was to document the return-to-work rate of individuals with SCI who participated in a community-based interdisciplinary vocational rehabilitation program. The secondary objectives were to assess changes in their levels of community integration and functional independence.


A community-based rehabilitation center in Singapore.


Participants were individuals with SCI between 21 and 55 years. They identified return to work as a rehabilitation goal, and were certified fit to undergo rehabilitation by their physicians. Primary outcome was the return-to-work rate at discharge from the program. Secondary outcomes were community integration and functional independence, measured by the Community Integration Questionnaire (CIQ) and the Spinal Cord Independence Measure III (SCIM-III), respectively. We summarized participants’ clinical and socio-demographic characteristics descriptively, and used inferential statistics to compare pre- and postprogram scores for secondary outcome measures.


Thirty-nine participants were included for this study. Thirty-two completed the program, of which 84% (n = 27) reported returning to work. Participants who completed the program had mean change in total CIQ and SCIM-III scores of 7 (95% CI, 5–8) and 11 (95% CI, 7–15), respectively. There were differences (p < 0.05) between pre- and postprogram scores for both secondary outcome measures.


Our findings suggest that our vocational rehabilitation program facilitated participants with SCI in Singapore to return to work and was beneficial to enhance their levels of community integration and functional independence. Future interventional studies are recommended to estimate the efficacy of such programs.

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Data availability

The access to the dataset collected and used for the current study may be granted upon request by SPD.


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We would like to thank all participants of the TTE program, who contributed the data for this study. We would also like to express our gratitude to the SPD staff who supported the delivery of the program.


This study was funded by the Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 1.

Author information




KK and NM were responsible for writing the paper and data analysis. PK and JK organized the program, collected data, managed the database, and contributed to the paper development. JY and YN contributed to the paper development. MA was the principal investigator and was responsible for the research design and writing the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Miho Asano.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The affiliated Institutional Review Board approved the study.

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Kee, K.M., Mohamad, N.Z., Koh, P.P.W. et al. Return to work after spinal cord injury: a Singaporean pilot community-based rehabilitation program. Spinal Cord (2020).

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