Over half of spinal cord injury (SCI) patients are affected by some type of sleep-related disorder. Some experts estimate the percentage is actually even higher, but can’t be sure because there are few studies on the subject. Until there is more data on what causes these issues, Epidural Stimulation is one of the best options for SCI patients to find relief.
This cutting-edge treatment is helping SCI patients overcome the most common sleep-related disorders
- Sleep-disordered breathing
- Periodic leg movements
- Circadian rhythm disorders
Plus, poor sleeping habits lead to psychological issues like depression and anxiety, which intensify dramatically when experienced by people who have limited mobility and independence.
Thankfully, scientific advancements are helping SCI patients sleep soundly.
Epidural Stimulation Programs For Sleep
One of the main reasons that epidural stimulation is so effective is that the stimulator device that gets implanted on a patient’s spine can be configured and controlled remotely. Patients can switch between different “programs” based on what physical activity they’re performing.
Mapping these programs makes up the bulk of any patient’s stay at Verita Neuro’s state-of-the-art tertiary care center. They spend hours per day working with specialists to optimize programs based on the patient’s physiology and daily life.
For example, Canadian male Ryan Straschnitzki has a program specifically mapped for when he’s sitting in his ice sledge. And while no other epidural stimulation patient has a program for that purpose, everyone suffering from an SCI needs a program for sleep.
For example, a T7 complete SCI patient from Romania received epidural stimulation and it has enabled her to increase muscle mass and endurance. Unfortunately, it resulted in spasms and spasticity that disrupted her sleep. Left untreated, the complications would have led to fatigue, sleepiness, impaired concentration, and reduced quality of life.
All it took was a few mapping sessions to create a program that optimized the stimulator for spasm-free sleep. Of course, there are physiological issues other than spasticity that SCI patients must contend with, too.
Managing Autonomic Dysreflexia
Autonomic dysreflexia is what happens when an SCI patient’s body detects that something is amiss below the level of the injury, but can’t adjust accordingly.
Examples of what can trigger autonomic dysreflexia include an overfull bladder, constricted blood flow, or an extreme temperature change. If any of these triggers happen in the middle of the night, patients might experience extremely high blood pressure, flop sweating, headaches, or nasal congestion.
Epidural stimulation helps an SCI sufferer like Isaac Darrel stabilize his blood pressure, bowel and bladder control, temperature regulation, and overall bodily sensation. And when an SCI patient’s sleep-related issue is psychological instead of physiological, Verita Neuro can help in other ways.
Lower risk of psychological issues
Neurologists worldwide have conducted studies on the prevalence of depression among SCI patients, and they’ve come to an interesting conclusion:
“Greater ability to move is associated with less depression.”
That claim is supported by dozens of testimonials from Verita Neuro patients as well. With newfound core strength and voluntary control, people like Andrew Bell have become less dependent on caretakers and more confident to taking back control of their circumstances.
“I was told I’d never walk, but less than 18 months later I’ve just done about 50m holding parallel bars…hopefully I’ll move from the parallel bars to a walker so I don’t have to always have a wheelchair. That will give me greater independence and change my life dramatically.”
Epidural stimulation is helping paraplegics and quadriplegics regain control over their limbs, no doubt decreasing their dependence on medications like antidepressants.
Reduced Dependency on Medications
SCI patients usually must rely on a long list of medications. Sometimes a single medication disrupts a patient’s sleep. Sometimes the culprit is a combination of two or more conflicting medications.
Doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines to people suffering from a spinal cord injury, which are not a good long-term solution due to their habit-forming properties. So, we continue to remind people that epidural stimulation gives patients opportunities to improve without a sole reliance on pharmaceuticals.
Verita Neuro ensures that every one of its programs is carefully designed based on the needs of an individual patient. If a sleep-related disorder is something you’re struggling with, contact one of our compassionate-care specialists today for more information.