• 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

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 increases rapidly and the symptoms described below may arise. The brain notices that the blood pressure is much too high and tries to lower the blood pressure by reducing the heart rate.

16 170 03 Management von Komplikationen EN Seite 03

What may be the causes?

The most frequent causes are:

  • Bladder congestion, bladder overstretching, spastic bladder
  • Full bowel (severe constipation)
  • External stimuli (pressure, bed sores, burns)

Other possible causes:

  • Infections (bladder, skin, in-grown or inflamed toenails, etc.)
  • Urological / gynaecological examinations
  • Pregnancy / childbirth
  • Intensive sports activities with a full bladder

How to react?

The most important measure is to eliminate the cause:

  • Empty the bladder immediately using a disposable catheter.
  • If using a permanent or suprapubic catheter, check whether it is bent or the urine bag is too full.
  • If this is not the case and symptoms persist, try flushing the catheter; if this is not possible, the catheter needs to be exchanged immediately.

If the bladder is empty:

  • Check whether the bowel is full and, if necessary, empty bowel.
  • Change sitting or lying position to check whether there is an object hidden beneath the buttocks / body.

Do not ignore the symptoms. If not treated properly, they may lead to seizures, unconsciousness or a stroke.

If the reason cannot be identified, contact your GP immediately!

Can the bladder be emptied normally through triggering if I have an autonomic dysregulation?

Normally not. The bladder must be emptied

as soon as possible using a disposable catheter.

What do I need to consider if I am pregnant?

Women with spinal cord injury (SCI) may suffer from autonomic dysregulation when giving birth. Not all gynaecologists are familiar with this condition and it is therefore important to discuss it with your GP.

Rate this post

Comments (0)

There are no comments on this topic yet.
Be the first to comment!
Most Recent Answers
5147 odyssita
Explaining what life with a chronic disability is like
Hi cAro, all the best for your research! I am very curious to hear about the results once they are being published. Thank you for researching this...
6 odyssita 2018-05-02
5049 Wheelie
Good news for all who would like to try out the Scewo by themselves: according the Scewo constructors, the feedback on their invention was so...
5 Johannes 2018-03-12
Ask the Expert
Most Recent Answers
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-07-20
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-05-07

Most Recent Blog Posts
kitwan 2020-07-02 In Society
Wheelchair users’ game of thorns
The fight for personal space, safety and independence
Accessible summer activities in Romandie
Looking for outdoor activities in Western Switzerland? There are plenty of opportunities!
The eye-catching disability icebreaker
Wheelchair covers that spark conversations and connections
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...
Social skills increase quality of life
Today strawberry yogurt is on Anna’s* grocery list. In front of the dairy section she notices that she cannot reach the yogurt sitting in a wheelchair. Many stressed people are rushing through the crowded store during rush hour and she does not...
Mobilisation / Transferring
What do I need to consider with regard to the shoulders? The shoulder is the most heavily-strained joint with regard to mobilisation – that applies to sitting up and transferring. It is therefore important to protect the shoulders whenever it is...

About the Community
Most Recent Topics
2020-07-03 In Latest
A COVID inspiration porn?
Over three months since the COVID-19 declared pandemic, many countries are still debating whether to make wearing face masks compulsory to help prevent the spread of the disease. Noam Gershony, an...
2020-06-08 In Latest
The world’s first MSc program in disability, design and innovation
Disability innovation is more than just a good idea. We’ve heard enough stories how disability innovations can go wrong with unrealistic expectations and insufficient market research. This needs to...
2020-05-19 In Latest
Globi, robots and Swiss Paraplegic Centre: a new book!
Globi is on an adventure again! This time the popular Swiss cartoon character makes his first visit to Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC) in Nottwil. He visits his friend Nik who rehabilitates at SPC...


Swiss Paraplegic Research
Guido A. Zäch Strasse 4
6207 Nottwil

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T 0800 727 236 (from Switzerland, free of charge)
T +41 41 939 65 55 (from other countries, charges apply)

Be part of the Community – sign up now!