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Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries Among Indigenous and Non-indigenous Peoples of Canada

A Persad (Saskatoon)* B Renne (Saskatoon) M Jeffrey (Toronto) S Ahmed (Saskatoon) S Humphreys (Vancouver) D Kurban (Vancouver) C Rivers (Vancouver) C Cheng (Vancouver) D Wang (Vancouver) T Shen (Vancouver) X Liu (Saskatoon) S Christie (Halifax) T Clarke (Calgary) B Drew (Hamilton) K Ethans (Winnipeg) MG Fehlings (Toronto) A Linassi (Saskatoon) C O’Connell (Fredericton) J Paquet (Quebec) L Scott (Saskatoon), D Fourney (Saskatoon) doi: 10.1017/cjn.2022.235

Despite a higher prevalence of traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) amongst Canadian Indigenous peoples, there is a paucity of studies focused on Indigenous TSCI. We present the first Canada-wide study comparing TSCI amongst Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Methods: This study is a retrospective analysis of prospectively-collected TSCI data from the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry (RHSCIR) from 2004-2019. We divided participants into Indigenous and non-Indigenous cohorts and compared them with respect to demographics, injury mechanism, level, severity, and outcomes. Results: Compared with non-Indigenous patients, Indigenous patients were younger, more female, less likely to have higher education, and less likely to be employed. The mechanism of injury was more likely due to assault or transportation-related trauma in the Indigenous group. The length of stay for Indigenous patients was longer. Indigenous patients were more likely to be discharged to a rural setting, less likely to be discharged home, and more likely to be unemployed following injury. Conclusions: Our results suggest that more resources need to be dedicated for transitioning Indigenous patients sustaining a TSCI to community living and for supporting these patients in their home communities. A focus on resources and infrastructure for Indigenous patients by engagement with Indigenous communities is needed.

Lay Summary

Indigenous peoples with a spinal cord injury across Canada have different physical, social, and environmental challenges than non-Indigenous populations. More resources should be dedicated to supporting these differences through working with Indigenous communities. This data was provided by Praxis’ Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry (RHSCIR) from 2004-2019 throughout Canada.