Spinal patients body temp control difficult

Published: September 20, 2006  |  Source: news.com.au

PATIENTS with spinal cord injuries may be unable to maintain body temperature and heat while exercising in a cold or a warm Environment, Dutch doctors warn in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Patients with spinal cord injuries have a disrupted nervous system “and may experience difficulties in temperature control during exercise at different ambient temperatures,” said the researchers, from University Medical Center Nijmegen, based on the results of a study in which they had 11 spinal cord injury patients and 10 able-bodied controls perform arm-cranking exercises for 45 minutes in warm and cold air temperatures.

Among the team’s observations, spinal cord-injured patients had larger increases in rectal temperature when exercising at the cold and warm air temperatures, compared with controls.

Moreover, body heat content decreased in the spinal cord-injured patients during exercise in cold temperatures but remained constant in controls.

Given these findings, the researchers conclude that, during exercise “both in the cold and in the heat, precautions should be taken even earlier and be more intensive for spinal cord-injured individuals than for able-bodied”.

From correspondents in New York