Spinal cord injury (SCI) is believed to be associated with high rates of cognitive impairment, which can result in complications in recovery. This study concerned two groups of adults with SCI. The first sample involved 150 participants with SCI who were assessed once for cognitive capacity with comparisons made with 45 able-bodied adults. Sample 2 were drawn from Sample 1, and included 88 participants with SCI who were prospectively assessed for mood states (anxiety, depressive mood, and fatigue) and pain intensity at three time periods: at admission to SCI rehabilitation, at discharge, and 6 months after transition into the community. Results showed that the SCI sample had significantly lower cognitive performance than the able-bodied control group. Further, almost 29% of the adults with SCI had lowered cognitive performance believed to be indicative of cognitive impairment. The risk of an adult with SCI having cognitive impairment was almost 13 times that of someone without an SCI. Results from Sample 2 revealed that the development of negative mood states was a significant problem in those with cognitive impairment after they transitioned into the community, a time when personal resources are severely challenged. Findings suggest all adults with SCI admitted to rehabilitation should receive a cognitive screen, and that rehabilitation strategies should then be guided by the cognitive performance of the person. Special attention should also be given to improving skills of those with cognitive impairment before they transition into the community, so as to reduce risk of comorbid mental health problems.
- cognitive function
- neural injury