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SCI: Systemic, Neurological, & Cardiovascular Changes

presented by Anne Leclaire, RN, MSN, CRRN

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Anne Leclaire receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course. Non-Financial: Anne Leclaire has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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A spinal cord injury is an insult to the central nervous system, so it should be no surprise that every bodily system is somehow affected by this change. Health care professionals use this information to design nursing interventions that address current and future health issues. Nurses play a key role in educating the patient and family in each of these areas so that they can take over that care upon discharge to home. This course will provide an overview of those expected systemic changes and start by addressing the changes to neurological, autonomic, and cardiovascular systems.

Meet Your Instructor

Anne Leclaire, RN, MSN, CRRN

Anne graduated with a Master of Science-Nursing from the University of Phoenix and has worked in the field of rehabilitation nursing for most of her career. She started as a staff nurse in inpatient rehabilitation at Weldon Center for Rehabilitation in Springfield, Massachusetts and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Systemic Effects of SCI

Spinal cord injuries affect every system in the body. Some effects are obvious while others are not. Rehabilitation nurses should understand how these systemic changes affect the person in order to create a holistic plan of care geared toward promoting health and preventing complications.

2. Neurological Manifestations

Spinal cord injuries involve a major insult to the nervous system. The chapter will review the neurologic changes that occur following a spinal cord injury, including those involving motor function and sensory changes. A working knowledge of these changes to the nervous system allows rehabilitation nurses to differentiate between normal and abnormal expected outcomes.

3. Central Nervous System (CNS) Complications Post SCI

A number of cardiovascular changes occur following a spinal cord injury that are of immediate concern, such as vasodilation and hypotension that can negatively affect the person’s ability sit upright. Other conditions, such as the high risk for blood clots or pulmonary emboli, can be life threatening if not prevented or identified early. Rehabilitation nurses are integral in identifying and treating cardiovascular symptoms.

4. Autonomic Changes

The loss of normal sympathetic nervous system functioning has implications for blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature regulation. This autonomic dysfunction also puts some people at risk for a life-threatening condition called autonomic dysreflexia. Rehabilitation nurses are key to identifying risk factors and addressing these autonomic system changes that can negatively affect their patients.

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