• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

Body & Complications

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Structure of the spinal column and nervous system
The nervous system consists of a central, a peripheral and a vegetative part. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system is used for the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of information. Together with the hormone systems, it controls the activities of all the organ systems and is adapted and to meet environmental requirements. The spinal cord, as part of the central nervous system, plays a decisive part in the transmission of sensitive...
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Damage to the spinal cord and consequences of this
Injuries resulting from accidents There are different elements in the movement segments which behave differently after an injury: bony structures and band structures. In bony spine injuries, we differentiate between three main types of fractures: Compression fracture Distraction injury Rotation injury The spine can be compared to two columns. The ventral1 column consists of the body of the vertebrae and the intervertebral discs, the dorsal2 column consists of the vertebral arches,...
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Autonomic dysregulation
What is autonomic dysregulation? Autonomic dysregulation is a regulation problem that leads to an overstimulation of the autonomic nervous system. In the case of a spinal cord injury (SCI), this may occur above the seventh thoracic vertebra. Autonomic dysregulation can be triggered through various stimuli, mostly through stimuli in the bladder or bowel area. These stimuli cause an uncontrolled spasmodic contraction of the vessels below the lesion level. As a consequence, the blood pressure...
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Chronic pain
Definition of pain Pain is a complex sensation similar to a feeling. Pain is always subjective; it cannot be measured or proven and also not rebutted. Since the 1970s there has been an official definition by the International Association for the Study of Pain which applies for acute and also for chronic pain: "Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage." The definition follows the...
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Skin and pressure sores
What causes pressure sores? Long-lasting pressure or also brief, strong pressure on one part of the skin can cause a decrease in blood flow inside the tissue. The skin presents red spots that do not turn white when pressing. Skin hardens if it is repeatedly exposed to strain at the same point. This reddening of the skin is caused by dead cells and requires decompression. The strain needs to be alleviated. This happens specifically to body parts that are paralysed and have no sensibility....
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Risks when living with limited sensitivity
How do we define sensitivity? With sensitivity, we mean our fifth sense, namely feeling. Different from the other four senses, sensitivity is not perceived through a sensory organ such as vision is through the eyes. Our sensory system retrieves information from numerous nerve endings and receptors1 that are spread all over our body. This system gives us feedback from our body through pressure, stretching, vibration, temperature or pain. This feedback comes from different places: from the...
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Heterotopic ossification
What is heterotopic ossification? Heterotopic ossifications (synonyms: myositis ossificans, periarticular ossifications PAO) are cases where muscle tissue is rapidly transformed into bone-like, calcified tissue. They occur in 20 – 30 % of people with spinal cord injuries, typically 1 – 5 months after paralysis. The soft tissue around the hips is most frequently affected, often on both sides. The shoulders, knees and other joints are also affected, albeit less frequently. If treatment is...
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Contractures
What are contractures and how do they develop? Contractures are shortenings of muscles, tendons or ligaments that have a limiting effect on the movements of the joints. The normal ability to move a joint is lost. Contractures are frequently attributable to the patient’s positioning. They occur when muscles and joints are not stretched or moved often enough. If, for example, the knees are permanently bent, the muscles that are responsible for extending the knee joints will shorten. As a...
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Multi-resistant germs
Wheelchair users are at increased risk of infections which have to be treated with antibiotics. Taking antibiotics frequently increases the risk of harbouring multi-resistant germs. How can you avoid multi-resistant germs becoming a health issue for you? Multi-resistant germs – what are they? There are numerous bacteria on everyone’s skin and mucous membranes (mouth, nose, etc.). This is completely normal and even good for you since they protect you naturally from harmful germs. Certain...
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Neuropathic pain
Pain is a basic human experience that we are often confronted with in our lives – sometimes even on a daily basis. We hit our head, our wisdom teeth are aching or we get a headache when the weather changes. There are different types of pain. Musculoskeletal pain can be treated with conventional measures, as well as with physical measures. But many people with spinal cord injury (SCI) suffer from pain that is much more severe, as their central nervous system is irreversibly damaged. Scientific...
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Orthostatic dysregulation
In people with spinal cord injuries, the paralysis affects the control of the vegetative nervous system. Orthostatic1 dysregulation can occur in the case of paralysis at a high level, in particular. Blood pressure is self-regulating in healthy people. There is disruption to this regulation, which is controlled by the vegetative nervous system, in people with spinal cord injuries. When changing from a lying to a sitting position, a sudden sharp drop in blood pressure can occur, orthostatic...
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Osteoporosis
What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeleton which leads to a reduction in bone mineral density, as well as to a change in the micro-architecture of the bone. As a consequence of that, the strength of the bone affected is much reduced, creating the possibility of broken bones when exposed to only minimal force during your normal routine. What may be the causes? In addition to factors such as hormonal changes (e.g. in women during their menopause), paralysis-specific...
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Spasticity
Spasticity develops as a result of damage to the spinal cord or to the brain. The term comes from the Greek word “spasmos”, which means muscle cramp. Spasticity and spasms frequently play a central role in the lives of people with spinal cord injuries and their caretakers. Why does spasticity occur? The regulation of body tension is very complex. Movements are controlled jointly by the brain and the spinal cord. The spinal cord injury causes an interruption of the ascending and descending...
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Syringomyelia
What is syringomyelia? Syringomyelia is a slowly progressing process in which the grey matter of the spinal cord, especially in the cervical and thoracic areas of the medulla, becomes loose and a fluid-filled cavity forms. They are very rare and occur spontaneously (1–2 per 1,000,000 inhabitants) and following spinal cord injuries where they can occur months or even years after the injury. They are generally triggered by a disturbance in the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid due to...
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Thrombosis
What is thrombosis and what causes it? Thrombosis is a condition where a blood clot (thrombus) (A) forms inside a blood vessel and thus causes a restriction or blockage of the blood flow within the vessel (B). Thromboses are dangerous as they might lead to a pulmonary embolism (see FAQs) in the event of the blood clot travelling to the lungs (C). When is there an increased risk of thrombosis? Common causes of thrombosis are confinement to bed, infections and injuries such as bone...
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Anatomy and physiology of respiration
Breathing is the most normal thing in the world for us. We hardly think about it, even though we breathe in and out about 20,000 times per day. We breathe more when we are active and exerting ourselves, and we breathe less when we are inactive. The oxygen inhaled is delivered to every cell in our body, no matter how small. In the cells a sort of combustion takes place resulting in the production of carbon dioxide, which is then transported out of the body. The respiratory tract The air...
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Inhalation therapy
Inhalation therapy is a standard treatment for acute or chronic conditions of the respiratory tract. By inhalation therapy, we mean the therapeutic inhaling of medication or the therapeutic moistening of the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. The latter stimulates the self-cleaning mechanism of the lungs. Semi-fluid secretion can thus be liquefied and therefore mobilised more easily. Additionally, the lungs are optimally ventilated since the inhalation process supports a more conscious...
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Coughing up and mobilising secretion
Coughing up secretion is very important to enable you to breathe freely. Coughing is a protective reflex for cleaning the respiratory tract since it loosens the mucous which can then be transported out of the airways. Coughing requires abdominal and rib muscles. For people with spinal cord injury, these muscles may be impaired depending on the diagnosis, the type of paralysis and the impairment level. It is therefore possible that they will need support when coughing up secretion. How can...
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Respiration
Invasive respiration What does invasive respiration mean? For people with spinal cord injuries with a lesion at a level of C4 or higher, breathing is inadequate, or there is a complete absence of it. As a result, people affected are dependent upon invasive respiration – invasive because the respiration takes place through a tracheostomy tube which runs through the neck directly into the airway. Artificial respiration is the partial or complete performance of natural breathing via an...
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Tracheostomy tube
The windpipe, which is also known as the trachea, begins under the larynx and extends as far as the chest, where it is spread out into the bronchial system of the lungs. The windpipe is a stable, fixed tube through which inhaled air is conducted into the lungs. During a tracheotomy, access is created to the windpipe by bypassing the upper airways in order to guarantee unimpeded breathing or respiration or in order to shorten the airway. This is done using a tracheostomy tube, with or without a...
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Suctioning
In some cases, support is needed for cleaning the nasopharyngeal space and keeping it free from secretion. For this purpose, suctioning is performed through the nose and, if necessary, the mouth. This is particularly necessary if the nose cannot be blown properly by the patient or if the mouth cannot be rinsed. Suctioning is also performed through the tracheostomy (trach) tubes at least 2 – 3 times per day to check that the tubes are secretion-free and more frequently, in the case of...

Most Read

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Anatomy and physiology of respiration
Breathing is the most normal thing in the world for us. We hardly think about it, even though we breathe in and out about 20,000 times per day. We...
1
Contractures
What are contractures and how do they develop? Contractures are shortenings of muscles, tendons or ligaments that have a limiting effect on the...
1
Suctioning
In some cases, support is needed for cleaning the nasopharyngeal space and keeping it free from secretion. For this purpose, suctioning is performed...
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Wiki
Most Read
Anatomy and physiology of respiration
Breathing is the most normal thing in the world for us. We hardly think about it, even though we breathe in and out about 20,000 times per day. We breathe more when we are active and exerting ourselves, and we breathe less when we are...
Contractures
What are contractures and how do they develop? Contractures are shortenings of muscles, tendons or ligaments that have a limiting effect on the movements of the joints. The normal ability to move a joint is lost. Contractures are frequently...
Suctioning
In some cases, support is needed for cleaning the nasopharyngeal space and keeping it free from secretion. For this purpose, suctioning is performed through the nose and, if necessary, the mouth. This is particularly necessary if the nose cannot be...

About the Community
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The Mind-controlled Exoskeleton Suit
Recently, a paralysed man known as Thibault has been able to walk again using a mind-controlled exoskeleton suit during a clinical trial at Clinatec research centre in Grenoble, France. He has...
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Swiss Paraplegic Research
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