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Adults with a spinal cord injury have a higher incidence of and risk for common psychological morbidities such as depression and anxiety, according to a study by University of Michigan, Michigan Medicine and published February in the medical journal Spinal Cord.
A team of researchers with the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based medical school analyzed private insurance claims from more than 9,000 adults with a traumatic spinal cord injury and more than 1 million adults without. Accounting for a range of psychological conditions, from anxiety and mood disorders to insomnia and dementia, researchers found that people living with a spinal cord injury were diagnosed with a mental health condition more often than those without the injury – 59.1% versus 30.9%.
The study examined chronic centralized and neuropathic pain among adults living with a spinal cord injury were found to be “robustly associated” with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and other mental health conditions. In most cases, researchers found that chronic pain had the greatest influence on mental health.
Researchers say the findings should prompt physicians to identify mental health conditions when seeing patients with spinal cord injuries and refer them to mental health providers for treatment.
The subjective nature of spinal injuries can cause the greatest disparity in medical and indemnity costs between states that allow injured workers to choose their own providers and those that give employers more control, according to the lead researcher of a study comparing overall costs.