Community reintegration after SCI rehabilitation consists of readjustment not only to the home setting but also to the social and occupational spheres, which often require people to spend nights away from home. Because community reintegration contributes to life satisfaction after SCI, it is necessary to investigate how travel participation is related to occupational and social participation and life satisfaction. Additionally, better management of the long-term effects of SCI requires better understanding of the changes in participation and life satisfaction over time.


To examine how participation and life satisfaction change over time following SCI, and to investigate whether spending nights away from home is associated with occupational and social participation and life satisfaction over time.


This is a longitudinal analysis of data extracted from the publicly available database of Spinal Cord Model Systems from 1996 to 2016. A generalized linear mixed model was developed to examine the changes of outcome variables over time while controlling demographic variables.


Travel and social participation declined while life satisfaction increased as people lived longer with SCI, controlling for confounders. No significant change was identified in occupational participation. Spending nights away from home was significantly and positively associated with social and occupational participation and life satisfaction over time. Although travel participation of people with SCI declined over time, its association with social participation strengthened as the number of postinjury years increased.


Travel participation plays an important role in successful community reintegration. Rehabilitation services and travel services should provide training and resources on travel after SCI for improved participation and life satisfaction.

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