Saturday, October 2, 2010

Regulating Body Temperature

Many people with spinal cord injuries, as a result, have trouble regulating their body temperature. Here's what it says about it on

"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 perspiration which evaporates and cools the skin. In cold weather, the body senses the lower temperature and our brain tells us to put more clothes on to warm ourselves up.

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 loss of the ability to sweat or vasoconstrict within affected dermatomes the patient becomes poikilothermic and needs careful control of their environmental conditions. Therefore, if a high paraplegic or quadriplegic is in an outside temperature over 90 F, especially when the humidity is high, the body temperature will begin to rise (Poikilothermia). 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."

My body used to have a hard time regulating its temperature. When the environment around me was cold, I would be cold; when it was warm, I would be warm.

One time, about six or seven years ago, I was just watching TV out in the living room. My mom came up to me and touched me and found that I was freezing cold. I took my temperature and it was just below 92°F. I was shocked because I couldn't tell that I was that cold. They heated up towels and blankets and piled them on me to try to warm me up. It took quite a while but I finally warmed up. It was a very scary experience because my temperature was very low.

Despite my past, I don't have problems with regulating my body temperature anymore; it is usually stable at or around 97.6°F. I also sweat below and above my injury, which is one reason I believe that my spinal cord is incomplete. These are definitely good things. I couldn't imagine having to worry about my temperature dropping or rising so suddenly and unexpectedly.


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