Study design Natural experiment Objectives To determine whether COVID-19 restrictions were associated with changes in the incidence of traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) in Scotland. Setting The Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit (QENSIU), the sole provider of treatment for TSCI in Scotland. Methods Time series analysis of all admissions for TSCI between 1st January 2015 and 31st August 2022. Results Over the 8-year study period, 745 patients were admitted to the QENSIU with a TSCI. Interrupted time series analysis showed that level 3 and 4 COVID-19 lockdown restrictions (the most severe levels) were associated with lower incidence of TSCI (RR 0.63, CI% CI 0.47, 0.82, p < 0.001). The associations were stronger in people aged over 45 (additive interaction p = 0.001), males (additive interaction p = 0.01) and non-tetraplegia (additive interaction p = 0.002). The incidence of TSCI due to deliberate self-harm was higher (0.41 versus 0.23 per month) during restrictions. Conclusions Overall, TSCI incidence reduced in Scotland when lockdowns were implemented, presumably due to lower engagement in risky activities. The increase in TSCI due to deliberate self-harm may reflect increased mental health problems and social isolation and should be anticipated and targeted in future pandemics. The change in incidence during the COVID-19 pandemic may have an economic impact and see a temporary reduction in the burden on health and social care. The results of this study will be useful for resource planning in future pandemics.
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Mccaughey, E., Ho, F., Mackay, D., Pell, J., Humburg, P. & Purcell, M. 2023, 'The impact of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns on traumatic spinal cord injury incidence: a population based study', Spinal Cord. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41393-023-00939-6