Document Type

Handbook, Guide or Manual (Third Edition)

Publication Date (Third Edition)

2009

Abstract

Introduction to Skin Function

The skin is a vital part of the body with many necessary functions:

• The skin protects you from the environment. When your skin is intact, there is a barrier against bacteria and injury to the organs inside of the body. It prevents too much sunlight or harmful chemicals from entering the body.

• The skin helps you stay warm or cool. Your sweat glands produce sweat and cool you off as the sweat evaporates from the skin.

• Nerve endings in the skin send messages to the brain to give you information about pain, temperature and touch.

Changes in Skin Function After Spinal Cord Injury

After spinal cord impairment, the skin loses its ability to protect itself against harmful things. The nerves in parts of your skin, at and below the level of your spinal impairment, may not be able to send accurate information to the brain because of damage to the spinal cord. You may not be able to notice the difference between hot and cold. You may not feel a pin prick or know if someone has moved your leg. Unless you look, you cannot always tell where your legs, arms or fingers are.

A pressure ulcer is a complication that may occur as a result of your spinal cord impairment. A pressure ulcer is an area of tissue damage caused by not relieving pressure. The area is usually over a bony prominence.

In this section, you will find information on how to take care of your skin, how to prevent pressure ulcers and how to care for a pressure ulcer if one occurs.

You will learn safety measures to protect yourself from harmful things in the environment, and how to check your skin regularly for potential problems.

(35 pages, 1.63Mb)

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