New thesis on traumatic spinal cord injuries in Botswana

Published 2016-09-29 08:02. Updated 2016-09-29 08:14

The management and outcomes of traumatic spinal cord injuries (TSCI) in Botswana are to some extent approaching the situation in some high-income countries. At the same time the mortality rate during the acute phase is as high as 20 percentage. This according to a new thesis by Inka Löfvenmark, PhD student at the Division of Physiotherapy.

Dissertation on September 29, see further information here.

Inka Löfvenmark.What´s the main focus of your thesis?

Traumatic spinal cord injuries (TSCI) in Botswana; experiences of living with a chronic TSCI in Botswana, and epidemiology, outcomes, and follow-up after acute TSCI.

Which are the most important results?

Almost 70% of people with TSCI were injured in traffic-related events (mainly single accidents), followed by assault, and falls. The mortality rate during the acute phase was high (20%); however, thereafter the mortality rate was close to zero at 2 years post injury. Waiting time for stabilizing surgery was long and the amount of pressure ulcers were relatively high during hospitalization (mainly developed during the acute phase) and the rate increased after discharge. The compliance with yearly control assessments by medical multi-professional SCI-specialists were high witch might have impacted the survival rate. 

Personal resources, family support and having an income were crucial factors impacting on whether the informants experienced inclusion or not in society, facilitated by religion, but hindered by inaccessibility. 

In conclusion, TSCI-epidemiology, management, and outcomes are to some extend approaching the situation in some high-income countries, while some aspects are similar to the situation in many low-income countries. 

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?

Improved road safety awareness in Botswana may decrease the incidence of TSCI. Improved basic care and acute management might decrease secondary complications, optimize outcomes, and improve survival. Long-term follow-up of people with TSCI can be possible even in resource-constrained settings and might positively impact people’s health and survival.

An open attitude towards differences in cultural background can be important to acknowledge when assessing patients.

What´s in the future for you? Will you keep on conducting research?

No finalized plans for the moment. Combining clinical work and research seem tempting to me, as well as to work and/or conducting research abroad again. 

The thesis

Epidemiology, outcomes and experiences of living with traumatic spinal cord injury in Botswana


Doctoral studentPhysiotherapySpinal cord injuryTrauma