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MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS AND A SPINAL CORD INJURY
Proper education and treatment from a professional trained in spinal cord injury issues can help you to decrease or eliminate the chance of experiencing the complications listed below.
PRESSURE SORES/DECUBITUS ULCERS: Sensory loss increases the chance of developing pressure sores because you cannot adequately feel the pressure on your skin from prolonged sitting, too tight of clothing, or the pressure from splinting. Prolonged pressure causes blood loss to the area, resulting in tissue damage. Areas most susceptible are those over bony prominences. You must relieve and eliminate pressure on such areas throughout the day, by changing positions or with pressure relief exercises. Pressure sores which do not heal become severe medical complications. You must learn to inspect your skin daily and to attend to any pressure sores immediately.
SPASTICITY: Involuntary muscle contraction below the level of injury. It can be frustrating, and can interfere with function and movement. A sudden increase in spasticity may alert you to other medical problems, such as an infection or impacted bowel.
Autonomic Dysreflexia: Caused by a reaction of the ANS in response to a noxious stimulus (distended bladder, pain stimulation, impacted bowels). Symptoms include perspiration, flushing, chills, hypertension and a pounding headache. This is a medical emergency and must be reversed at once. The person is placed in an upright position to reduce the extremely high blood pressure. The cause of the noxious stimulus must be alleviated immediately. The blood pressure and other symptoms are monitored until they return to normal.
DECREASED VITAL CAPACITY: Affects those with cervical and high thoracic lesions. With the decreased chest expansion, paralysis of muscle, and decreased ability to cough, respiratory infections are more probable.
OSTEOPOROSIS: Develops because of the disuse of the long bones and legs. Daily standing, if possible, will help to decrease this.