In my final post, I’d like to talk about some secondary conditions related to skin. Many people with SCI have little to no sensation. Skin breakdown occurs when a bony area has constant pressure (think about sitting without changing position all day!). This area of skin gets decreased blood flow and can eventually open into a wound called a pressure ulcer. Once an ulcer occurs it can take between months and years to heal and may require multiple surgeries.
Decreased/no sensation makes us more prone to injuries from burns, cuts, abrasions, etc. often we don’t know an injury has occurred until our body tells us with spasms or blood pressure changes called autonomic dysreflexia.
I have enough sensation that skin breakdown has not been much of an issue for me. (See Mike Franz’s experience) Early on after my accident, I did get some ulcers on two of my toes from my leg brace and shoe causing constant pressure. I also get frequent cuts and bruises on my feet and hands from transferring and being clumsy. These tiny wounds can take months to heal due to poor circulation. I have also experienced burns because it takes me much longer to recognize that something is hot before I move my skin from the source.
I want to stress to all the readers that this is NOT a “poor me, pity me” post. This is meant to bring awareness to the many other things people with SCI deal with on top of paralysis or partial paralysis. Even those of us that can stand or walk with or without assistance have to deal with these somewhat invisible secondary conditions on a day-to-day basis.
In 2013 I was in a car accident resulting in an incomplete C5/6 SCI. I recently received my Master’s degree in nursing from University of Michigan and am working on my Doctorate in nursing practice. I’m passionate about changing healthcare for people with disabilities using education and awareness. I live in Oregon with my husband and 3 dogs. We participate in activities like skiing, kayaking, biking & ATV’s! Every summer we explore the country in an adaptive RV.