The negative effects of SCI on the integumentary and musculoskeletal systems are comparatively not as direct as its effects on the nervous system. Being the main system directing the flow of information and commands throughout the human body, its vital role in the proper functioning of the human body is not to be overlooked. The nervous system is mainly composed of two major portions, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
The brain and the spinal cord comprise the central nervous system, while nerve structures dispersed throughout different locations in the body altogether make up the peripheral nervous system. Take note that the spinal cord is a major constituent of the central nervous system, and of course, it is the main point of damage or injury in cases of SCI. By receiving considerable damage, the functions and effectiveness of the spinal cord lie in peril.
In relation to this, there is a known rule of thumb that the higher the point of damage at the spinal cord in terms of location, the more detrimental the effects will be. To serve as an example, if an individual suffers SCI near the tail bone, then most likely he or she will still be able manage to move around; however, if the main damage point of the SCI happens to be near the neck, then it is almost certain that the individual will be forever bedridden due to major paralysis (Spinal Injuries Association, 2009a). Figure 2 below provides further information and additional detail the said correlation.
Upon examining the possible effects of SCI on the nervous system and particularly the spinal cord, the root source of the problems on the other organ systems becomes apparent. The interrelated nature of the resulting problems of the integumentary and musculoskeletal systems is clearly established by a sequence of events. This sequence unfolds through three major transition points. First, the loss of capacity for the brain to give specific orders to various parts of the body is lost as a result of a moderate to severe case of SCI.
In these cases, the spinal cord which links the brain to the other parts of the body has been damaged. Upon this event, the brain loses control over the muscles; thus, along with the lack of capacity to move the parts of the skeleton for aiding in locomotion, the individual becomes confined to a wheelchair or becomes completely bedridden. Further confinement in such a position will in turn further degrade the muscles and bone density of the individual, further lessening the chance of mobility even if recovery occurs.
Upon becoming completely immobile, the individual loses certain ways to maintain a satisfactory overall health condition. In effect, together with suffering constant pressure at specific parts of the body due to prolonged stay in a chair or a bed, problems regarding the integumentary system arise. The patient suffers from pressure ulcers due to the combined effects of lack of mobility and deterioration of general health condition. The human body is composed of different organ systems working in unison.
An individual’s well-being is defined by how well the individual organ systems function together. Blood circulation, waste excretion, physical protection, and other processes are governed by these organ systems. However, the said importance of these organ systems does not necessarily place all of them in the same level in terms of value. There is in fact a hierarchy of importance for these organ systems, meaning there is an organ system that when crippled also cripples other organ systems. Given this line of thought, the nervous system can then be considered as the most vital of organ systems.
The integrity of various organ systems significantly relies on the proper functioning of the nervous system. Hence, in the case of SCI, there is indeed established interrelationships between the integumentary, musculoskeletal, and nervous system; the damage that the nervous system receives also defines the probable effects on the integumentary and musculoskeletal systems. References Johnson, K. & Lammertse, D. P. (1998) Primary care for individuals with spinal cord injury. CNI Review, 9 (1). Retrieved March 25, 2009, from http://www.
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