Who Moves After SCI? Individual, Health, and Neighborhood Predictors of Residential Mobility Among Participants in the National Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Database

Amanda L. Botticello*, Lauren Murphy, Jennifer Bogner, Michael Boninger, Thomas N. Bryce, Yuying Chen, Allen W. Heinemann, Mary Joan Roach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate residential mobility among community-living adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) and the individual, health, and neighborhood factors associated with the propensity to relocate. Design: Retrospective analysis of data from the National SCI Model Systems (SCIMS) Database collected between 2006 and 2018 and linked with the American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Setting: Community. Interventions: Not applicable. Participants: People with traumatic SCI (N=4599) who participated in 2 waves of follow-up and had residential geographic identifiers at the census tract level. Main Outcome Measures: Moving was a binary measure reflecting change in residential locations over a 5-year interval. Move distance distinguished nonmovers from local movers (different tracts within the same county) and long-distance movers (to different county or state). Move quality included 4 categories: stayed/low poverty tract, stayed/high poverty tract, moved/low poverty tract, and moved/high poverty tract. Results: One in 4 people moved within a 5-year interval (n=1175). Of the movers, 55% relocated to a different census tract within the same county and 45% relocated to a different county or state. Thirty-five percent of all movers relocated to a high poverty census tract. Racial and ethnic minorities, people from low-income households, and younger adults were more likely to move, move locally, and relocate to a high poverty neighborhood. High poverty and racial/ethnic segregation in the origin neighborhood predicted an increased risk for remaining in or moving to a high poverty neighborhood. Conclusions: Although people with SCI relocated at a lower rate than has been reported in the general population, moving was a frequent occurrence postinjury. People from vulnerable groups were more likely to remain in or relocate to socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods, thus increasing the risk for health disparities and poorer long-term outcomes among minorities and people from low-income households. These findings inform policy makers’ considerations of housing, health care, and employment initiatives for individuals with SCI and other chronic disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-831
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Environment
  • Population dynamics
  • Poverty
  • Rehabilitation
  • Residence characteristics
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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