How does spinal cord injury (SCI) affect marital status?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS, FAANS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Marital, educational, and employment status of patients with spinal cord injuries are discussed below.

Marital status

Single persons sustain spinal cord injuries more commonly than do married persons. Research has indicated that among persons with spinal cord injuries whose injury is approximately 15 years old, one third will remain single 20 years postinjury. The marriage rate after SCI is annually about 59% below that of persons in the general population of comparable gender, age, and marital status.

Marriage is more likely if the patient is a college graduate, previously divorced, paraplegic (not tetraplegic), ambulatory, living in a private residence, and independent in the performance of activities of daily living (ADL).

The divorce rate annually among individuals with spinal cord injury within the first 3 years following injury is approximately 2.5 times that of the general population, whereas the rate of marriages contracted after the injury is about 1.7 times that of the general population.

The divorce rate in those who were married at the time of their injury is higher if the patient is younger, female, black, without children, nonambulatory, and previously divorced. The divorce rate among those who were married after the spinal cord injury is higher if the individual is male, has less than a college education, has a thoracic level injury, and was previously divorced.

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