Autonomic dysfunction is a major and poorly understood consequence of spinal cord injury. It is a cause of very serious disability and requires much more research. It should be a focus of treatment strategies. This book will be of interest to anyone involved in research and treatment of spinal cord injury since it helps to explain the tremendously negative impact on the body caused by cord injury that is not as obvious as paralysis and loss of sensation. It contains a compilation of what is known about bladder, cardiovascular, bowel and sexual dysfunction after spinal cord injury, as it relates to the changes within the autonomic nervous system control of these functions.
The book begins with a description of the time course of autonomic dysfunctions and their ramifications from the first hours after a spinal cord injury to the more stable chronic states. The next section contains three chapters that address anatomical findings that may provide some of the foundation for autonomic dysfunctions in many of the systems. The system-specific chapters then follow in four sections. Each section begins with a chapter or two defining the clinical problems experienced by people with cord injury. The following chapters present research, basic and clinical, that address the autonomic dysfunctions.