Quantifying diseases or health conditions in populations is a core domain in epidemiology. In addition, measuring health status can facilitate the understanding of the impact of healthcare management strategies and health policies.

Measuring disease frequency in populations requires stipulation of diagnostic criteria or case definition. For the purpose of this review, traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI) is defined as a lesion of traumatic nature within the spinal cord that results in the disruption of nerve fibre bundles that convey ascending sensory and descending motor information (Raineteau & Schwab 2001Kraus et al. 1975).

We systematically reviewed the literature with respect to the estimations of incidence, prevalence, and etiology of traumatic SCI in different countries worldwide and distinctive time periods. This review provides up to date knowledge of the global incidence and prevalence, and cause related data of traumatic SCI for clinical and policy comparisons.

The methods used for the development of this epidemiological review deviates from the traditional SCIRE methods (see the Review Process and Methodology) that primarily focus on studies testing an intervention or evaluating the psychometric properties of an outcome measure. Specifically, this chapter includes only original articles that properly estimate the incidence, prevalence, or causes of traumatic SCI among adults (≥18 years). Case reports, editorial articles and meeting abstracts were excluded.