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GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN SPINAL CORD INJURY

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Abduction - Movement of the limb away from the midline of the body

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)-Include eating, dressing, grooming, shaving, etc.

Adaptive Equipment -A wide array of equipment and devices used to accomplish more ADL activities and become more functionally independent.

Adduction - Movement of the limb toward the midline of the body

Ambulation - Walking with or without aids, such as braces and crutches

Ankylosis - Loss of mobility in a joint, caused by bony deposits of calcium in the joints

Arterial Line - An intravenous (IV) device inserted into an artery to determine blood pressure and draw blood.

Assisted Cough - A technique in which the patient is assisted by another individual to produce a more forceful and productive cough.

Atelectasis - Loss of breathing function that is characterized by collapsed lung tissue. If lung secretions cannot be cleared, this can lead to pneumonia.

Autonomic Dysreflexia - A potentially dangerous complication in SCI above the T-6 vertebra that involves high blood pressure, sweating, chills, and headache, frequently due to an overfull bladder or impacted bowel. Also known as hyperreflexia.

Autonomic Nervous System - The part of the nervous system that controls involuntary activities, such as the heart.

Biofeedback - A process that provides sight or sound information about body functions, such as blood pressure and muscle tension, and enables patients to control these functions.

Blood Pressure - The force with which the heart pumps blood. Normal blood pressure is 120/80.

Bowel Program - A habit or pattern for emptying the bowel at a specific time.

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome - A painful disorder in the hand caused by repetitive motion, such as grasping the push rim of a wheelchair and pushing.

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Catheter - A flexible tube for withdrawing from, or introducing fluids to the body, usually the bladder.

Central Nervous System (CNS) - The part of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord.  Experiments show that CNS nerves can be repaired, but a "cure" for patients has not yet been found.

Cervical Spine - The seven bones or vertebrae of the spine in the region of the neck.

Complete Injury - A total paralysis (loss of movement) and loss of sensation (feeling) below the level of injury

Computerized Axial Tomography (CT Scan) - A cross-sectional X-ray technique that produces high-resolution, 3-D images that greatly enhance diagnosis.

Contracture - The stiffening of a body joint to the extent that the joint cannot be moved through normal range of motion.

Cyst - A collection of fluid within the spinal cord that may increase pressure on the cord and lead to pain, dysreflexia, and/or loss of sensation.

Cystogram - An x-ray of the bladder to see if reflux, the movement of urine backward into the bladder, is present.

Cystography -  An examination of the bladder, with an instrument called a cystoscope, to detect infection and stones and determine how well the bladder is emptying.

Decath Program - see Intermittent Catheterization

Decubitus Ulcer - see Pressure Sore

Discharge Planning - Preparing for life after rehabilitation.

Dorsal - Indicating the back, rear, or posterior part of the body.  For example, dorsiflexion of the toes means flexing the toes to the back of the foot (the sole).

DVT - Deep venous thrombosis, or blood clot, treated with blood-thinning medication.

Dysreflexia - see Autonomic Dysreflexia

Edema - A swelling, usually in the legs or feet, caused when the body tissues contain an excessive amount of fluid (plasma).

Electro-ejaculation - A means of producing sperm by electrical stimulation from men with ejaculatory dysfunction.

Endotracheal Tube - A tube inserted into the mouth or nose that serves as an artificial airway. It passes through the vocal cords, and therefore speech is not possible with this tube in place. It is the tube that connects a respirator to the patient.

Extension - Movement which brings the body or limbs into a straight position.

Flexion - Movement which brings the body or limbs into a bent position.

Foley Catheter - A tube inserted into the bladder to drain the urine into a plastic bag either attached to the leg or the bed.

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) - The application of low-level, computer-controlled electric current to the muscles, including paralyzed muscles, to enhance or produce function.

Halo Orthosis - A metal ring and supporting frame, placed around the head and attached to a body jacket or vest, to immobilize the upper body and cervical spine.

Heterotopic Ossification (HO) - The formation of new bone deposits in the connective tissue that surrounds major joints.

Hydronephrosis - A condition in which the kidney is so full of urine that it is distended and functionally impaired.

Hyperreflexia - see Autonomic Dyreflexia

Impaction - A blockage of the bowel with stool that results in severe constipation.

Incentive Spirometer - A device used by the patient to keep the lungs clear.

Incomplete Injury - Some sparing of sensation or voluntary movement below the level of injury; movement and feeling may improve over time.

Incontinence - Lack of bladder and/or bowel control.

Indwelling Catheter - A flexible tube, retained in the bladder, and used for continuous urinary drainage to a leg bag or other device.

Intermittent Catheterization  - Using a catheter to empty the bladder on a regular schedule.

Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP) - An x-ray of the kidney to determine function

Intubation - Insert a tube through the nose or mouth into the windpipe to keep the airways open, prevent fluids from entering the lungs, and remove fluids from the lung.

Laminectomy - An operation that is sometimes used to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

Lesion - An injury or wound.

Lumbar Spine - The five bones or vertebrae of the spine in the region of the lower back, the strongest part of the spine.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A technique used to display tissues that cannot be seen in x-rays or with other techniques.

Neuroectomy - An operation in which the nerves to particular muscles are cut to eliminate severe spasticity.

Neurogenic Bladder - A bladder with any disturbance due to an injury of the nervous system.

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Orthosis - A device applied to the outside of the body to support, aid, and align the body and the limbs or to assist motion by assisting, resisting, blocking, or unloading the body weight.

Osteoporosis - Loss of bone density, common in immobile bones after SCI.

Ostomy - An opening in the skin to allow for a suprapubic catheter (for the elimination of intestinal contents) or for the passage of air (a tracheotomy).

Paraparesis - Weakness of the lower body and extremities below the cervical section of the spinal cord

Paraplegia - Loss of function in the lower body and extremities below the cervical section of the spine

Percussion - Forcefully tapping areas of the chest to dislodge and mobilize secretions.

Peripheral Nervous System - The part of the nervous system that includes the nerves that are outside the brain or spinal cord.  If damaged, peripheral nerves have the ability to regenerate.

Phrenic Nerve Stimulation - Electrical stimulation of the nerve that controls the diaphragm to facilitate breathing in high level quads. Uses an implanted electrode and a receiver controlled by a wheelchair-mounted transmitter

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Physical Therapist

Postural Drainage - Positioning the head lower than the chest so that gravity can be used to help clear the lungs of mucous.

Postural Hypotension - Reduced blood pressure that results in lightheadedness

Pressure Sore - Also known as skin sore or decubitus ulcer. A breakdown in the skin due to pressure that results in tissue death and sometimes infection

Prone - Lying horizontal with the face down, or, turning the hands so the palms face downward or backward.  Opposite of Supine.

Quadriparesis - Weakness of all four limbs due to an injured or diseased spinal cord segment

Quadriplegia - Also known as tetraplegia. Loss of function in all four limbs due to an injured or diseased spinal cord segment

Range of Motion (ROM) - The normal range of motion of any body joint. Also refers to body exercises designed to maintain this range and prevent contractures.

Reflex - An involuntary response to a stimulus involving nerves not under the control of the brain. In some types of paralysis, reflexes become exaggerated and may cause spasms.

Regeneration - The re-growth or repair of nerve fiber tissue, which can permit the return of function.

Rehabilitation - A sequence of services designed to restore optimum physical, psychological, social, and vocational levels of function.

Residual Urine - Urine that remains in the bladder after voiding

Rhizotomy - A procedure that cuts or interrupts spinal nerve roots to treat spasticity

Sacrum - The lowest part of the spine. The bones or vertebrae in this section of the spine end with the "tailbone" and join the pelvis (hip).

Secondary Injury - Biochemical and physiological changes that occur in the body after the injury, such as swelling and loss of blood flow.

Spasm - Involuntary muscle contraction

Spasticity - Hyperactive muscles that move or jerk involuntarily.

Sphincter - A small muscle that can open or block a passageway, such as the urethra or the rectum.

Suctioning - The removal of mucus and secretions from lungs used in individuals who lack the ability to cough.

Supine - Lying horizontally with the face up, or, turning the hands so the palms face upward or forward.  Opposite of Prone.

Suprapubic Cystostomy - A small opening made in the bladder to remove large stones or establish suprapubic catheter urinary drainage.

Tenodesis - A device to support the hand, wrist, and/or fingers and permit greater function of the disabled hand.

Thoracic Spine - The twelve bones or vertebrae of the spine in the area of the chest.

Tilt Table -  A motorized table used to gradually increase a patient's tolerance to a standing position.  

Tracheostomy, or Tracheotomy - Opening in the trachea, or windpipe, to insert a tube that protects the airway and allows secretions to be removed from the lungs.

Transfer - A method of moving from one surface to another.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) - Bacterial invasion of the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, bladder neck, and urethra.

Ventilator - A mechanical device used to facilitate breathing in patients with impaired diaphragm function.

Vertebrae - The bones that make up the spinal column.

Vital capacity - The amount of air in a full breath.

Vital Signs - Include blood presure, pulse, respiration, and temperature.

Weaning - Gradually removing a ventilator as the patient's lung strength and vital capacity increase.

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PoinTIS Copyright © 2009 the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, all rights reserved.