Do Spinal Cord injuries impact temperature regulation?
With spinal cord injuries, there is reduced sensory input regarding temperature from below the level of injury. People with SCI (at the level of T6 and above) can also lack the ability to respond to environmental changes in temperature. As a result, individuals may experience high or low body temperatures.
Individuals can also experience sweating disturbance (with or without core temperature dysregulation) as a result of autonomic dysfunction. The most common pattern is increased sweating above the level of injury and minimal/no sweating below the level of injury.
Michael, a WheelAir PRO, struggles with overheating because of his spinal cord injury (C6/7) even while living in chilly Scotland. “I find overheating very, very uncomfortable. It’s also hard to control. It limits what I can do – if it’s a hot day, for instance, I’ve got to watch I don’t sit in the sun for too long or don’t do anything too excessive. It’s tiring – not just because it exhausts my body, but because I constantly have to think about it.”
WheelAir helps him control his temperature, and it also gives him peace of mind. “It ultimately makes me feel more in control. It is kind of a mental thing, knowing that you have it there for when you most need it.”
For Alistair, WheelAir’s airflow helps him manage over-sweating. “I have often been dripping in sweat, especially at the beginning of my injury (T4 Spinal Injury). Sweating is an issue because it is very uncomfortable, unhygienic, and cause skin issues in the longer term. With WheelAir, I’m finding that in physiotherapy sessions, my back is a lot comfier and I am sweating less.
Read more about how over-sweating can impact skin integrity here.
We have even more case studies on our website that share examples of individuals with spinal cord injuries using WheelAir. You can find the case studies for SCI here.
How does WheelAir help?
Through active airflow, WheelAir allows for self regulation of the body temperature through convection, conduction and evaporation heat loss. Many WheelAir users turn on the fans as a preventative measure, meaning at the start of the day or activity they start with a low setting to keep them cool. If they feel they are getting too warm, they increase the fan speeds to prevent overheating.
How to get WheelAir
Speak to your clinician, use our Knowledge page to fully understand the health implications of overheating, over-sweating and the influence of microclimate on skin integrity, look at our Case Studies and understand your clinical need to help aid the wheelchair service decision.