Article

Symptom burden in persons with spinal cord injury

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 2.44). 06/2007; 88(5):638-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2007.02.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To determine (1) the frequency, severity, and reported course of 7 symptoms in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and (2) the association between these symptoms and patient functioning.
Postal survey.
Community.
A survey that included measures of the frequency, severity, and recalled course of pain, fatigue, numbness, weakness, shortness of breath, vision loss, and memory loss, as well as a measure of community integration and psychologic functioning was mailed to a sample of persons with SCI. One hundred forty-seven usable surveys were returned (response rate, 43% of surveys mailed).
The frequency and average severity of each symptom was computed, and the frequencies of each type of reported course were noted. Analyses estimated the associations among the symptoms, and between symptom severity and measures of patient functioning.
The most common symptoms were pain, weakness, fatigue, and numbness. All symptoms were reported to remain the same or to get worse more often than they were reported to improve once they began. Pain, weakness, fatigue, and memory loss were the symptoms most closely associated with patient functioning.
Patients with SCI must deal with a number of secondary complications in addition to any disability caused by the injury itself. Of 7 symptoms studied, pain, weakness, and fatigue appeared to be most common and most closely linked to patient social and mental health functioning. Research is needed to identify the causal relationships between perceived symptoms and quality of life in patients with SCI and to identify effective treatments for those symptoms shown to impact patient functioning.

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