Study design: Secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from a multisite cohort study. Objectives: To analyze the association between the built environment and physical functioning reported by adults living with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). Setting: Four US Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems centers in New Jersey, Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan. Methods: Participants were from the Spinal Cord Injury-Functional Index/Capacity (SCI-FI/C) development study. Survey data from N = 402 participants were geocoded for analysis. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis was used to define five- and half-mile buffer areas around participants’ residential addresses to represent the community and neighborhood environments, respectively, and to create measures of land use, residential density, destination density, and park space. The relationships between these built environment features and four domains of physical functioning—basic mobility, wheelchair mobility, self-care, and fine motor function—were modeled using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression. Results: People with paraplegia living in neighborhoods with more destinations and a nearby park reported higher levels of self-care functioning. For people with tetraplegia, living in a community with more destinations was associated with better wheelchair mobility and fine motor functioning, and living in a neighborhood with high land use mix was associated with higher fine motor functioning scores. Conclusions: The association between the built environment and functioning after SCI is supported and in need of further investigation. Understanding the environmental context of disability may lead to community-based interventions and effective public policy that will attenuate the experience of limitations and promote accessibility on a larger scale.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology