Regulation - Poikilothermic And Poikilothermia
Temperature Regulation Sections
Temperature Regulation Overview
A normal, healthy human is able to maintain a constant
body temperature of approximately 98.6F despite the temperature
of the environment.
In a hot environment, the body sends a signal
to the brain via the spinal cord to say the body is overheating,
the brain then sends a signal back down the spinal cord and tells
the body to cool itself by perspiring which evaporates and cools
the skin preventing hyperthermia.
In cold weather, the body senses the lower temperature
and our brain tells our body to constrict the blood vessels in our extremities, and keep the warm blood around our vital organs preventing hypothermia. Our brain also tells us to put more clothes on to warm ourselves
Spinal Cord Injury Temperature Regulation
Most people with complete spinal cord injuries do
not sweat below the level of the injury and many quadriplegics cannot
even sweat above the injury (even though they may sweat due to autonomic
dysreflexia). With the loss of the ability to sweat or vasoconstrict
within affected dermatomes the patient
becomes poikilothermic and needs careful control of their environmental
Therefore, if a high level injury paraplegic or quadriplegic is in
an outside temperature over 90 F, especially when the humidity is
high, the body core temperature will begin to rise (Poikilothermia) and the individual will become hyperthermic. Likewise in a cold
environment, the body may not be able to get the messages through
to the brain that the body is cooling down, and if left untreated,
the person will soon become hypothermic.
Cooling Down With a Spinal Cord Injury
One of the best ways for a person with a spinal cord
injury to cool down is to have a cold wet towel wrapped around the
back of the neck. The skin should also be damped down to allow the
water to evaporate from the skin, and hence cool the body down.
It's a bit like artificial sweat, but it does work. A cold water spray on the head and
shoulders will help reduce the body temperature. The most obvious way to keep cool
is to sit in the shade!
Some of the symptoms of overheating that quadriplegics may suffer from are nausea, headache, nasal congestion, tiredness, low blood pressure
and reduced concentration.
Warming up With a Spinal Cord Injury
If a person gets too cold, then layers of clothing should be worn, and warm fluids should be drank
to bring the core temperature back up to normal.
Some of the symptoms of hypothermia are shivering above the level of injury, increased pain, slow reaction of motor skills, tiredness and reduced blood pressure and heart rate.
Support : Types
of Paralysis : Vertebral Column : Spinal
Cord : Myotomes & Dermatomes
Autonomic Dysreflexia : Spasticity
& Spasms : Temperature Regulation : Respiratory
Pressure Sores : Spinal
Cord Injury Research