What're the complications of spinal cord injury?
Aside from a loss of sensation and movement, patients with a spinal cord injury may also experience bladder and bowel complications. Spinal cord injuries often affect fertility in males. If the spinal cord injury is high, for example C-1 or C-2, the
patient may need a respirator or diaphragmatic pacemaker in order to breathe properly.
Other complications that may result from a spinal cord injury are an inability to regulate blood pressure, low blood pressure, reduced control of body temperature, an inability to sweat that occurs below the level of injury, and chronic pain. Patients with spinal injuries also have an increased susceptibility to respiratory disease and autonomic dysreflexia.
Autonomic dysreflexia is primarily the result of the body being unable to control the blood pressure. This is especially a concern for patients who have a spinal cord injury at T-6 or above. The signal responsible for "telling" the blood vessels to relax cannot be processed because of the injury. With autonomic dysreflexia, these blood vessels intermittently remain constricted, thus elevating the blood pressure and possibly leading to life threatening complications such as stroke. External methods of lowering the blood pressure to a safe level are often necessary.
Men who have sustained spinal cord injury may be unable to achieve an erection or ejaculate. Sperm formation may be abnormal too, reducing fertility. Fertility and the ability to achieve orgasm are less impaired for women. Women may still be able to become pregnant and deliver vaginally with proper medical care.