Perspective | Published:

Functional outcomes in geriatric patients with spinal cord injuries at a tertiary care rehabilitation hospital in Saudi Arabia

Spinal Cord Series and Casesvolume 4, Article number: 78 (2018) | Download Citation



Study design

Retrospective study


To identify demographic features, clinical characteristics, and complications associated with spinal cord injuries/disorders (SCI/D) among elderly individuals at a rehabilitation hospital and to measure the functional outcomes of rehabilitation.


Rehabilitation hospital in King Fahad Medical City (KFMC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


The study was conducted in elderly individuals (aged ≥65 years) with SCI/D, admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation program between October 2014 and 2015. Demographic and clinical data were recorded along with functional independence measure (FIM) score at admission (FIMa) and discharge (FIMd). Data were descriptively analyzed. Association of non-metric and metric variables with complications was measured using χ2, and Student’s t-test, respectively.


Twenty-four individuals with SCI/D (95.8% were male and retired) with mean (standard deviation, SD) age of 72.3 (6.3) years were included. The most common co-morbidities were hypertension (75.0%), and diabetes mellitus (58.3%). Degenerative cervical myelopathy (33.3%) was the most common cause of SCD. Of all, nine (37.5%) individuals had clinical complications (urinary tract infection(UTI); 8/9, surgical wound infection; 1/9). Mean (SD) hospitalization period during inpatient rehabilitation was 66.0 (13.9) days. Mean (SD) FIMa scores improved from 71.7 (17.3) to 85.3 (16.8) at discharge. Co-morbidities associated with complications were peripheral vascular disease, ischemic heart disease, and stroke.


In Saudi Arabia, non-traumatic spinal etiologies are the most frequent cause of spinal cord dysfunction in the elderly. Male gender, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus were high-risk factors among the geriatric age group with SCI/D. Elderly individuals with SCI/D without complications can have a shorter hospitalization period and higher functional gains during rehabilitation.

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Additional information

I would like to declare that this research was presented as a poster at ACRM 93rd Annual Conference, Progress in Rehabilitation Research held on October 30- November 4, 2016 in Chicago, IL, USA. The abstract was published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Volume 97, Issue 10, pages e84–85, October 2016.


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Author information


  1. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Hospital, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    • Sami Ullah
    •  & Ahmad Zaheer Qureshi
  2. General Internal Medicine and Respiratory Medicine, Eastbourne District General Hospital, Eastbourne, UK

    • Irfan Qamar
  3. Research Center, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    • Amani Abu-Shaheen
  4. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, King Fahad Specialist Hospital, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

    • Asim Niaz


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Ethical considerations

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee at KFMC, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sami Ullah.

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