Thermoregulation following spinal cord injury

Price, M.J.; Trbovich, M.

Handbook of Clinical Neurology 157: 799-820


ISSN/ISBN: 0072-9752
PMID: 30459042
DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-444-64074-1.00050-1
Accession: 065949332

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Spinal cord injury results in physiologic adaptations affecting heat production (reduced muscle mass) and heat dissipation (blood redistribution and reduced sweating capacity below the level of lesion). However, it is the balance between these factors which determines whether heat balance is achieved. Core temperature estimates are generally consistent with those for the able-bodied, with cooler values reported in some instances. More notable differences are demonstrated through cooler lower-body skin temperatures at rest and a loss of anticipatory control during exposure to heat and cold when compared to the able-bodied. During exercise in cool conditions persons with paraplegia demonstrate similar body temperature responses as for the able-bodied but retain heat during recovery. Persons with tetraplegia demonstrate continual increases in core temperature and thus thermal imbalance along with greater heat retention. During exercise in the heat, athletes with paraplegia appear to be able to regulate body temperature to a similar extent as the able-bodied. Those with tetraplegia again show thermal imbalance but to a much greater extent than in the cold. Future work should focus upon specific sweating responses and adaptations following spinal cord injury, the effects of completeness of lesion, perceptual responses to environmental challenges, and how these translate to undertaking activities of daily living.