Symptoms of spinal cord injury include: loss of movement; loss of sensation (sense of touch, heat or cold); loss of bowel or bladder control; exaggerated reflexes or spasms; changes in sexual function or sensitivity; pain or stinging due to nerve damage; and difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing the throat.
Autonomic dysreflexia, also known as hyperreflexia, means an over-activity of the Autonomic Nervous System causing an abrupt onset of excessively high blood pressure. Persons at risk for this problem generally have injury levels above T-5. Autonomic dysreflexia can develop suddenly and is potentially life threatening and is considered a medical emergency.
Pressure sores must be taken seriously, if left unchecked, a pressure sore can lead to amputation or in the worst case death. Even when well cared for, a pressure sore can still become infected. Check yourself for red marks and sores daily or have your caregiver check for you, it should be a routine which is as second nature as brushing your teeth.
Because the urinary system will no longer work as it was intended, complications can arise from the bladder not filling and emptying correctly. The following are a few of the more common complications following a spinal cord injury.
Pressure sores start as a patch of discoloured skin. The patch might be red if you have pale skin or bluish-purple if you have dark skin. Then the skin gets a graze or blister. If nothing is done to relieve the pressure, the skin dies off quickly and leaves a shallow wound.