Objective: To compare and contrast the contributory effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) on sexual function and social relationship opportunities, hypothesizing that patterns of change in sexual function would follow etiology.
Design: Cross-sectional, case-matched survey of community living individuals with TBI, SCI or both (termed dual diagnosis). Participants: Consecutive sample of participants with TBI (n = 25), SCI (n = 24) and dual diagnosis (n = 28), an average 3.6 years post-rehabilitation discharge.
Methods: Participants were interviewed using a modified version of the ‘Sexuality after Spinal Injury Questionnaire.’
Results: Almost all respondents (97%) perceived adverse post-injury change in their experience of neurosexual function and/or social relationships. Physiological aspects of sexual function (e.g., erection, orgasm) were most affected by SCI whereas social relationships appeared more affected by TBI. People with dual diagnoses exhibited a combination of features. Participants with SCI (with or without TBI) were significantly more likely to have their concerns about sexual function discussed during rehabilitation than the TBI group.
Conclusion: TBI and SCI produce predictable impacts upon sexual function following injury, the impact of which were less frequently addressed during inpatient rehabilitation for those with TBI.