Spinal cord injury (SCI) can cause physical disability and psychological distress; however, whether SCI is a risk factor for dementia is unclear. This study evaluated the incidence of dementia in patients with SCI. Study participants were recruited from a nationwide cohort during 2004-2007 and categorized into SCI (patients diagnosed with SCI; n = 941) and non-SCI (age- and sex-matched controls; n = 5060) cohorts. Each participant was followed for 7 years until diagnosis of dementia or December 31, 2010, whichever occurred first. Data were subjected to Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses. The incidence of dementia was significantly higher in the SCI cohort (1106 per 100,000 person-years) than in the non-SCI cohort (p < 0.001). Patients with SCI had a significantly higher risk of dementia than did those without SCI (crude hazard ratio [HR] = 2.14, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.57-2.92, p < 0.001 vs. adjusted HR = 1.95, 95% CI, 1.43-2.67, p < 0.001). Further analysis found that there is no statistical significance of higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease among SCI patients, but that SCI patients were at higher risk of developing other types of dementia than the control cohort (crude HR = 1.88, 95% CI, 1.33-2.63, p < 0.001 vs. adjusted HR = 1.90, 95% CI, 1.35-2.68, p < 0.001). In conclusion, patients with SCI are at high risk of dementia, and effective dementia prevention strategies are recommended for comprehensive SCI care.
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