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Spinal Injuries in Australia

Spinal injuries can significantly impact a person’s mobility, day-to-day activities, and quality of life. The latest AIHW Spinal Injuries in Australia 2020-21 web report highlights the devastating impact spinal cord injuries have, with paraplegia and quadriplegia being among the most expensive chronic disease injuries a person can face.

Key findings from the report include in Australia between 2020-21:

  • Spinal injuries resulted in 19,378 presentations to emergency departments and 26,556 hospitalisations, with males representing over half of all presentations. 
  • Falls (56%) were the leading cause of spinal injury hospitalisations, followed by transport (31%). 
  • The number and rate of spinal injury hospitalisations increase for those living in Remote or Very Remote areas.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be affected by spinal injuries, with rates of spinal injury hospitalisations being 1.5 times that of non-indigenous people. 


The report found of all falls-related presentations between 2020-21:

  • Spinal injury hospitalisations contributed to 6% of fall-related injury hospitalisations.
  • Among females, 2 in 3 spinal injury hospitalisations were due to a fall (63%). 
  • Among males, half of spinal injury hospitalisations were due to a fall (50%). 

In Western Australia in 2021, there were 33,252 fall-related hospitalisations, with females accounting for 55.7%. Many factors can contribute to falls and fall-related injuries, which can be broken down into personal, environmental, and behavioural categories. 

Falls continue to be a significant public health issue, significantly impacting an individual’s quality of life. Understanding these complex factors and implementing effective evidence-based strategies to prevent falls is essential. For more information on falls in WA, statistics, and effective interventions, visit the Know Falls webpage.


The report found of all transport-related presentations between 2020-21:

  • 44% involved car occupants
  • 20% involved motorcyclists
  • 13% pedal cyclists
  • 6% pedestrians 

Determinants that can contribute to transport-related injuries include road design, drink driving, speeding, seatbelt use and inattention. Effective interventions such as road safety legislation, safe road design, encouraging the use of safer modes of transport and road safety campaigns help reduce the impact of transport-related injuries. For more information on determinants and interventions for road safety and injury prevention, visit the Know Transport webpage. 

Paraplegic Benefit Fund (PBF) Australia developed a range of inspirational injury prevention programs that aim to reduce the incidence of serious injury at work, on the road and at play.

Access the full AIHW Spinal Injuries in Australia 2020-21 web report for information on priority populations, types, places, causes, and severity of injuries, as well as data from a 10-year time series.

Injury Matters acknowledges and respects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the custodians of the land on which we work, live and build our lives, families, and communities. We pay our respects to the First Nations People of this country, their cultures and Elders past, present and emerging.

Injury Matters strives to be culturally sensitive as we represent the Western Australian community in our imagery. Please be advised that our website or resources may contain images, videos, or voices of people who have since passed away.

If any material causes concern, please contact us on (08) 6166 7688.

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