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Spinalnet - Spinal Cord Injuries glossary
Category: Health and Medicine > Spinal Cord Injuries
Date & country: 20/11/2007, UK
Words: 568


Frequency-volume chart
Medical chart used to record how much fluid a patient takes in and how often, as well as how much fluid is lost in their urine, and how often.

Friction
Resistance between one object and another, e.g., a rough surface provides friction for any object moving along it.

Gallstones
Hard, stone-like structures formed within the gall bladder. The gall bladder is a small sac found near the liver, which stores a fluid involved in digestion, called bile.

Gas exchange
The movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the air in the lungs. Oxygen moves from air sacs in the lungs into the surrounding blood capillaries, while carbon dioxide passes from the capillaries into the air sacs.

Gastric drainage
The process of removing the contents of the stomach through a tube, using suction.

Gastritis
Inflammation of the lining of the stomach.

Gastrocolic reflex
Automatic (reflex) wave-like movements of the large intestine (bowel), in response to food entering the stomach and small intestine. This moves material through the bowel.

Gauze
An absorbent fabric with an open weave that is usually made of cotton. Sterile gauze is often used as a material for dressing wounds.

Genital
Relating to the reproductive organs. Reproductive organs are sometimes referred to as ‘the genitals`.

Gland
Structures within the body that produce and release certain fluids. There are two types of glands. One type, known as exocrine glands, release the fluids they produce via a tube or duct onto the skin or internal surfaces of the body, e.g., sweat glands, salivary glands. The other type, called endocrine glands, release chemicals called hormones dire…

Glycogen
A food storage molecule. Glycogen is the main form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body. It can be broken down to form glucose to provide the body with energy.

Granulation
Normal stage of wound healing where the surface of the wound is covered with a layer of red moist tissue.

Grey matter
Areas in the brain and spinal cord that consist of unmyelinated nerve cells. Unmyelinated nerve cells are those in which the long thread-like extensions are not covered in a layer of myelin – white, fatty, insulating material.

Groin
The area at the front of the body where the thighs join the trunk.

Haematoma
A collection of blood (usually a blood clot) in body tissue, caused by bleeding from a damaged blood vessel.

Haemodialysis
Haemodialysis is a method used to filter the blood when the kidneys are not working properly. It involves the blood passing from the person`s body through a tube to a machine called an artificial kidney or dialyser. The blood flows past a membrane in the machine, which allows waste products to move from the blood, across the membrane into a special…

Haemoglobin
The red pigment present in blood that is used to transport oxygen around the body.

Haemorrhoids
An abrupt swelling of a vein near the surface of the rectum (end of the bowel) or anus. In people with spinal cord injury haemorrhoids may be caused by straining to pass stools during constipation, changes in blood flow, or lying or sitting too long in one position. Symptoms include visible swelling around the anus, burning or itching (if sensation…

Hair follicle
The tiny pit in the skin where the end of a hair is embedded.

Halo brace
Following injury to the cervical spine (neck) this is a brace that is used to support and prevent movement of the head and neck, while the injury is healing. The halo brace consists of a ring (halo) that is attached to the skull using metal pins. The ring is connected to a body jacket by metal rods, thus holding the head in a fixed position.

Harrington rods
Type of supportive device that is used to fix the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine in position following a fracture, or to correct or stabilise a spinal deformity.

Heart attack
Caused by an interrupted flow of blood to the muscle of the heart. It results in the death of an area of heart muscle. A patient experiencing a heart attack feels a sudden, severe chest pain that may spread to the arms and throat.

Heart disease
Any disorder of the heart that affects the function of the heart itself or its blood vessels.

Hinge joint
Specific type of moveable joint that allows movement in two dimensions only. Examples of hinge joints include the elbow and the knee.

Hormones
Natural chemicals of the body that are released into the blood by a gland or tissue and which have specific effects on tissues elsewhere in the body. Example of hormones include testosterone and insulin.

Humidified
Commonly refers to air that is full of moisture.

Humidity
The moisture content of air.

Hydration
A measure of the water content of the body tissues.

Hydrocolloid dressings
Dressing made of an adhesive wafer-like film that provides a barrier to water or micro-organisms. Fluid from the wound combines with the adhesive to make a gel that promotes wound healing.

Hydrogel dressing
Type of dressing that is supplied as a gel or a sheet. It may be used in dry wounds to provide moisture, or to absorb moisture from wounds producing small amounts of fluid.

Hydrophilic
Describing a substance that ‘likes` water, i.e., it does not repel water, but will absorb it.

Hypercalcaemia
Condition where there is an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood.

Hyperchlorhydia
The presence of too much acid in the stomach because too much of the digestive juices that contain the acid have been produced. It can lead to stomach ulcers, heart burn and indigestion.

Hypersensitivity
The condition of being excessively sensitive (overreacting) to the effects of an action or a substance, e.g., the immune system can become hypersensitive to foreign particles such as dust or pollen, which can lead to an allergic reaction. The nervous system may also become hypersensitive to stimulation.

Hypertension
High blood pressure.

Hypnosis
Method used to transform a person into a trance-like state.

Hypotension
Low blood pressure.

Hypothalamus
Area at the front of the brain that is involved in controlling many things, such as body temperature and sexual function. It also helps to control hormones produced by the pituitary gland, which are very important in regulating many body processes.

Hypovolaemia
Lower that normal volume of blood in the body. It may be as a result of blood loss following an injury.

Ileal conduit
A surgical procedure using part of the gut (specifically, part of the ileum) to create an artificial bladder.

Ileum
The lowest section of the small intestine. It is involved in absorbing digested food into the body.

Immobilisation
Generally implies that something is prevented from moving. People confined to bed rest after a spinal injury are said to be immobilised. Similarly, broken bones that are prevented from moving by plaster casts, splints or braces, are also said to be immobilised.

Immobility
The inability to move. Can be used to describe the period after a spinal cord injury, when a person is confined to bed rest and is unable to move around. Alternatively, it could be used to describe the limbs (immobility of the limbs) following paralysis.

Immune cells
Cells (white blood cells) of the body`s immune system, i.e., the system that recognises foreign particles in the body and helps to fight off infection.

Impulse
The electrical activity that travels along the long, thread-like nerve cells. It is a way of sending messages from one part of the body to another.

Incidence
Term used to describe how common a condition is over a given period of time.

Incomplete SCI
An incomplete SCI is the term used to describe partial damage to the spinal cord. It leaves some function below the level of the injury, so that some sensation and/or movement remain. There may be more function on one side of body than the other.

Incontinence
Involuntary leakage of urine or faeces from the body.

Independent living advocate
Individual who is experienced in promoting and helping achieve independence in people with disabilities.

Indwelling catheter
A drainage tube (catheter) inserted into the bladder that is left in place all of the time to allow continuous urine drainage.

Indwelling catheterisation
Method of draining urine from the body by insertion of a drainage tube (catheter) into the bladder. The tube is left in place all of the time to allow continuous urine drainage.

Indwelling urethral catheterisation
Method of draining urine from the body by insertion of a drainage tube (catheter) through the urethra into the bladder. The tube is left in place all of the time to allow continuous urine drainage.

Inflammation
This is the body`s response to injury or infection. It causes the affected area to become red, hot, painful and swollen.

Infusing
The slow injection of a fluid into a vein or artery.

Inhalation
Breathing in.

Inhibitory control
Nerve impulses that act to damp down or stop a particular activity or response. For example, the brain sending messages to stop the bladder from spontaneously emptying when it is becoming full.

Intermittent catheter
A drainage tube (catheter) inserted into the bladder only when urine needs to be drained from it. After urine drainage, the catheter is removed from the body.

Internal anal sphincter
This is a ring of muscle that lines the anus and acts like a valve. It works in conjunction with another valve (the external anal sphincter) to control the passage of faeces from the rectum (bowel) to the outside. The internal anal sphincter is controlled involuntarily (subconsciously). It is normally contracted, and when faeces need to be removed,…

Internal urethral sphincter
A valve-like structure, made of a ring of muscle, which is found where the urethra joins the base of the bladder. This valve can open and close, and along with another valve called the external urethral sphincter, it controls when urine leaves the bladder, i.e., when urination takes place.

Intestine
The part of the digestive system that extends from the stomach to the anus. It is divided into two parts, the small intestine, and the large intestine.

Intrauterine devices
Forms of contraception used by women that involve inserting the contraceptive device into the womb itself.

Intubated
Having a tube inserted into the body to provide medical treatment, or to allow diagnosis of a problem. For example, a tube may be inserted into the windpipe to help people with breathing difficulties. Alternatively, a tube might be inserted into the stomach to allow a sample of stomach contents to be removed and analysed.

Invasive
An invasive medical procedure involves either making a surgical cut in the skin or inserting an instrument, such as a needle or a tube, into the body. The procedure may be a form of treatment or investigation. This term may also be used to describe a disease that has a tendency to spread to surrounding tissues.

Involuntary
Refers to activities of the body (or muscles) that are not under conscious control, e.g., digestion.

Iron
An element that is essential to the body`s healthy function. Most of the iron in the body is found in the red blood cells where it is needed to help the transfer of oxygen between the blood and the rest of the body. A lack of iron can lead to a medical condition known as anaemia. Red meat provides a good source of iron in the diet.

Irrigation
The process of washing out a wound, hollow body structure (such as the bladder), or artificial device (such as a catheter) with water or other fluid.

Jejunum
Part of the small intestine that connects the duodenum with the ileum.

Joint
The place where two bones meet. Most joints are moveable, i.e., the bones can move with respect to each other. Different types of joints allow different types of movement – the joint between the shoulder and the arm allows movement in three dimensions, while the elbow allows movement in only two dimensions.

Kidney
One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. They filter waste products and excess water from the blood to produce urine.

Kidney failure
Describes when the kidney stops working properly, so that it can not filter enough waste or excess water from the blood. It can lead to the person becoming seriously ill.

Kidney stones
Hard, stone-like structures formed within the kidney.

Labia
The two sets of ‘lips` around the entrance to the vagina.

Laxative
A drug used to encourage the passage of stools, or to make stools softer or more bulky.

Lesion
Damage to an area of the body, as a result of an injury or disease.

Ligaments
Bands of tough, fibrous supporting tissue that strengthen joints. Ligaments are important in supporting the bones in the spinal column.

Lithotripsy
A technique for destroying kidney stones without surgery – it uses sound waves to painlessly break up the stones.

Long bones
Name given to bones that may be of any length, but which contain bone marrow and have two ends and a central shaft. Long bones provide strength, structure and mobility. Examples include bones of the legs, arms and fingers.

Lower digestive system
The lower parts of the digestive tract – called the bowel. The bowel can be divided into the small bowel (small intestine) and the large bowel (large intestine). The small intestine is arranged in coils and loops and divided into three parts: the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Food enters the small intestine after leaving the stomach, and it continue…

Lower motor neurone
Nerve cells (neurones) that start in the spinal cord (where they receive messages from nerve cells called upper motor neurones). They then branch out from the spinal cord and travel to different parts of the body, where they deliver their final message to muscles or other body tissues.

Lubricant
An oily or slippery substance that reduces friction. For example, a lubricant may be used to ease the insertion of a gloved finger into the rectum (bowel) during manual evacuation of stools.

Lubricated
Something onto which lubricant has been applied.

Lumbar
Describes the area around the lower back. Lumbar vertebrae are the bones of the spine in this region. A lumbar fracture is a break in the lumbar vertebrae.

Lymph vessels
Enclosed network of tubes (the lymphatic system) that transports a fluid known as lymph around the body. Lymph consists of the fluid that bathes the tissues, protein, fat, and white blood cells. The lymphatic system filters this fluid and returns it to the blood stream, and also plays an important role in the immune system.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Involves using powerful magnetic fields and pulses of radio waves to produce images of body tissues.

Malnutrition
The state of having a diet that does not provide the correct balance of food groups for a healthy body.

Mammary glands
The milk-producing glands in a female that are also known as breasts.

Manual (bowel) stimulation
Also termed digital stimulation. Stimulation of the muscles in the walls of the rectum (bowel) by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger through the anus – aimed at encouraging the passing of stools.

Mechanical pain
Pain that occurs when the soft tissue and/or ligaments surrounding a joint are overstretched, because of the position of the bones, e.g., following injury.

Mechanical ventilation
Mechanical help with breathing, using an electrically powered device that ‘pushes` air into the airways/lungs during breathing in, and allows air to leave the lungs during breathing out. The air may be oxygen-enriched.

Membrane
A thin layer of tissue that covers a body surface, lines an internal space or tube, or separates structures in the body.

Menopause
The point in a woman`s life when she stops having periods (menstruating) every month, because her ovaries have stopped releasing eggs (ova). The woman is therefore no longer able to become pregnant.

Menstrual cycle
Series of events that occurs every month in a woman who is producing reproductive cells (eggs, ova). Each month, an egg matures and is released from the ovaries. If it is fertilised by a sperm it embeds into the thickened wall of the womb and develops into an embryo. If it is not fertilised, then it is released from the womb along with the thickene…

Menstruation
In the absence of pregnancy, menstruation (‘a period`) is a monthly event that occurs when a woman`s thickened womb lining breaks down and is released out of the body through the vagina.

Metabolism
All the chemical processes that take place in the body.

Micro-organisms
Fungi, bacteria, viruses or other microscopic life-forms.

Micturition
Another name for the process of passing urine.

Mineral
A naturally occurring chemical. Many minerals exist, and many are needed by the body in order to work properly, e.g., calcium.

Mini-enema
Administration of a small volume of liquid into the rectum (bowel), usually with the aim of triggering bowel movement and the passage of stools.

Mitrofanoff procedure
Surgical replacement of the bladder with a pouch made from part of the bowel. Drainage is via a small opening on the abdomen.

Mobilisation
Starting to move around after a period of restricted movement. For example, getting up from bed rest after a spinal injury.