Complications of Spinal Cord Injury
- Orthostatic Hypotension, which affects the majority of patients with upper thoracic and cervical injuries. Loss or disruption of descending autonomic neural pathways results in impaired vasoconstriction. The result is the pooling of blood into lower limbs while standing or changing position. This leads to a significant drop in blood pressure levels.
- Autonomic dysreflexia, which results in an often violent response to any painful stimuli or distress below the level of injury. It results in severe spastic attacks, severe fluctuations in blood pressure levels and breathing difficulty. Medical emergency treatment is often required and the condition is potentially fatal.
Urinary Tract Infections and Bladder Complications
Neurogenic Bowel and Gastrointestinal Complications
How Does Epidural Stimulation Help To Reduce The Complications Of Spinal Cord Injury?
Firstly, cervical spinal cord stimulation results in neuromodulation of phrenic nerve motor neurons. This improves the function of diaphragm muscles and results in improved respirator function and cough reflex. Cervical as well as lumbar spinal cord stimulations enhance the functions of spared autonomic neural pathways. This results in an improvement in autonomic functions. Consequently, patients experience improved regulation of blood pressure levels and ultimately the risk or severity of autonomic dysreflexia is decreased. A spinal stimulator implanted at the lumbar level delivers neuromodulation to the sacral spinal cord and improves bowel and bladder functions. Long-term, this reduces the risks and severity of bowel and bladder complications. Epidural stimulation regulates the upper motor neuron pathways, which can treat or reduce levels of spasticity. Finally, improved muscle function, improved cardiovascular functions and blood circulation, and improved ability to do body weight training all result in reducing the risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis as well as improvements in bone density.
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