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What is autonomic dysrelexia after a spinal cord injury?

People who have suffered from a spinal cord injury can often have different complications that are associated with that injury. Autonomic dysreflexia is a condition that can be life-threatening if it isn't promptly recognized and treated. This means that spinal cord injury patients and their caregivers always have to be on the lookout for signs that this condition might occur.

What is autonomic dysreflexia?

Autonomic dysreflexia occurs when an irritant below the level of injury causes the autonomic nervous system to work in a different manner than what is normal. This condition is associated with injuries to the spinal cord that occur at the T6 level or above. When a stimuli that would normally be painful occurs below the level of injury, the nerve signals are transmitted normally until they reach the level of injury and are then blocked. Since they are blocked, the brain can't instruct the body to react, which intiates a reflex that causes the blood vessels to narrow near the irritant. That raises the blood pressure, which affects the heart. Since the brain and the heart can't communicate in a normal manner, the blood pressure isn't able to be corrected.

What are the symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia?

A blood pressure that is higher than normal is one sign of autonomic dysreflexia. Other possible symptoms include a slow pulse, nasal stuffiness, sweating above the spinal cord injury level, pounding headache, and nausea. In some cases, the skin below the level of injury will appear to have bumps that are similar to goose flesh.

When autonomic dysreflexia occurs, the irritant must be determined and treated. In some cases, this isn't possible and generalized treatment must occur. This treatment can add more expenses to an already costly condition, but seeking compensation in Oklahoma might help you to cover the costs.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, "Autonomic Dysreflexia," accessed April 07, 2016

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