Attenuated skin blood flow response to hyperthermia in paraplegic men

J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol. 1984 Apr;56(4):1104-9. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1984.56.4.1104.


To clarify how skin and internal temperatures interact in control of skin blood flow, five male paraplegic subjects (lesions at the level of thoracic vertebrae 1-11) (29-47 yr old) were heated in water-perfused suits to elevate oral temperature (To) 1-1.5 degrees C. In part I only the insensate skin was heated; sensate skin was kept at 32-34 degrees C. No appreciable elevation of forearm blood flow (FBF) or sweating occurred, even with To at 38 degrees C. In part II the suit was applied to the whole body so that skin temperature was 40 degrees C, except for one arm that remained at 32-34 degrees C for FBF measurement. Sweating was noted above the lesion in all but one subject. FBF increased in all subjects but was far below levels previously reported for hyperthermic normal men; also, thresholds appeared elevated. To the extent that effector connections are intact, attenuated FBF response implies that either 1) some vasoconstrictor bias associated with cardiovascular regulation is active or 2) thermoregulatory effector outflow is diminished. If the latter is true, it follows that the effector outflow reduction relates to diminished afferent input. But the component of the effector outflow contributed by peripheral thermoreception is small; thus these findings may indicate that what is lacking in the afferent input is central thermoreception from below the lesion, possibly from the spinal cord itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Fever / complications
  • Fever / physiopathology*
  • Forearm / blood supply
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraplegia / complications*
  • Skin / blood supply*