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J Neurotrauma. 2014 Sep 15;31(18):1531-9. doi: 10.1089/neu.2014.3373. Epub 2014 Aug 27.

Sympathetic skin responses and autonomic dysfunction in spinal cord injury.

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1 Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of British Columbia , Vancouver.


Sympathetic skin responses (SSRs), a measure of sympathetic cholinergic sudomotor function, have been used in the assessment of autonomic dysfunction in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). This review highlights the basic mechanisms underlying SSRs as well as their application to the SCI population. We address the utility of SSRs in assessing autonomic function, the relationship between autonomic and sensorimotor impairment, and the association between SSRs and the sequelae of autonomic dysfunction in SCI, particularly autonomic dysreflexia and orthostatic hypotension. Overall, SSRs are a rapid, convenient and non-invasive method illustrating that the severity of autonomic impairment can be independent from sensorimotor impairment. We suggest that SSRs be used in conjunction with other validated autonomic tests in order to predict or document autonomic dysfunction in SCI.


autonomic control; autonomic dysreflexia; orthostatic hypotension; spinal cord injury; sympathetic skin responses

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