Spinal cord injuries and the 2012 London Paralympics

The 2012 London Paralympics are coming up, with a challenge to the blood pressure control of those with spinal cord injuries!

Unstable blood pressure control is a challenge and a concern to the general spinal cord-injured population. Those with injuries located in the cervical and upper thoracic areas have a disrupted sympathetic nervous system, which affects well-integrated physiological responses to exercise –  including homeostatic blood pressure and heart rate. These individuals may also experience autonomic dysreflexia, a dramatic increase in blood pressure, which if left untreated can lead to stroke, heart attack or even death.

In spinal cord-injured Paralympic athletes there are especially two concerns related to autonomic dysreflexia:

  1. Those who are not aware that this is a risk
  2. The athletes who are aware of autonomic blood pressure “boosts,” and use it as a competitive advantage.

Spinal cord injury is usually accompanied by low arterial blood pressure, and some athletes will drink extra and refrain from voiding prior to competition. This will result in a “boost” in blood pressure and give them the extra energy to compete at a higher level. This is, of course, prohibited at the Olympics.

To create awareness and prevention of autonomic dysreflexia Dr. Krassioukov, a Canadian researcher has received funding from the Craig Neilsen Foundation to run a cardiovascular health autonomic clinic in London’s Olympic Village.

Written by Berit Brurok, PhD Candidate at CERG.

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This entry was posted in Cardiovascular disease, Fitness, In English, Public health by CERG. Bookmark the permalink.

About CERG

The Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) seeks to identify the key mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical on cardiac health in the context of disease prevention and treatment. Named the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine under Professor Ulrik Wisløff's leadership in 2011, CERG uses both top-down and bottom-up approaches to combat lifestyle-related disease.

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