Medical providers, learn about autonomic dysreflexia

My 21-year-old son fell from a 40-foot Extension ladder while at work and suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury, instantly paralyzing him and rendering him a quadriplegic. After enduring three months of hospitalization and Rehabilitation, he achieved his goal to be home by Christmas.

Arriving home with 24-hour nursing care to assist him with the care of his indwelling Catheter, the situation became emergent when, on his seventh day home, he went into an episode of Autonomic Dysreflexia, or Hyperreflexia.

Working against us was the fact that we did not have adequate medical supplies.

Worker’s compensation directly prohibited us from working with a vendor of our choice and the supplies, although ordered, simply never arrived.

We did not have a spare catheter or irrigation kit.

Two consecutive nights, he was taken by ambulance to hospitals, but no one believed my son or myself when we told them what it was, and which doctor they needed to call.

Autonomic dysreflexia is a condition only seen in spinal cord injuries. Autonomic dysreflexia can develop suddenly, and is to be treated as an emergency situation.

If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, stroke, and even death.

My purpose in sharing this story with you is to hopefully, through exposure, take steps to educate the community, i.e., emergency room physicians, medical providers, and the public at large, about autonomic dysreflexia and hopefully, for my son and other spinal cord injury people, their lives will be taken a little more seriously and misdiagnosis laced with intermittent sarcasm will one day be eliminated.

Please – medical providers – educate yourselves.
By: Dawn Perrault

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