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5 complications of spinal cord injuries

You never thought you'd suffer a spinal cord injury, but after you were involved in a serious crash, you've been left with one so serious you're unable to walk. You have no sensation and don't know what to expect.

A spinal cord injury is bad enough on its own, but did you know that they often result in complications? When the spinal cord can't transmit signals to parts of the body, it's more likely for the body to become dysfunctional. These are five complications you should know about.

1. Autonomic dysreflexia

Autonomic dysreflexia is a condition that happens below the point of injury. There, a condition triggers signals to the brain that aren't able to be received. As a result, the blood vessels constrict and blood pressure increases. The heart rate reduces. This can result in seizures and an increased risk of stroke. Sometimes, the condition is resolved by simply moving or adjusting. Other times, the stimulus has to be addressed.

2. Bedsores

Bedsores are another problem caused by paralysis. When you cannot move well, you'll likely sit or lie in the same position for longer periods of time. Doing this is dangerous, because pressure on the skin can cause the tissues to deteriorate rapidly. You may not even be aware of the sore if you can't feel it, but there is a risk of it causing sepsis and other severe infections.

3. Urinary tract infections

If the nerves that control the urinary tract and bowel are dysfunctional because of your injury, you may not be able to eliminate in a controlled manner. As a result, there's a higher risk of infection.

4. Weight gain or loss

Depending on the injury and how it impacts you, you'll have the potential to lose or gain weight. Many patients work with nutritionists and physical therapists to prevent either from impacting them significantly.

5. Depression

There is no question that it's depressing to be unable to do the things you once could do easily on your own. Perhaps you now need help to do daily tasks or struggle to do anything you once enjoyed. Depression is a treatable condition that many patients suffer. Discussing your condition, working with therapists and learning to cope all help reduce depression in patients with spinal cord injuries.

These are a few complications of spinal cord injuries to be aware of. With awareness and good medical care, it's possible to live a normal life with your injury.

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