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


Traction
Traction is a non-surgical treatment option for broken or incorrectly positioned bones, e.g., the spine. It involves putting a steady pulling force onto the spinal column (backbone) in order to correct the position of misaligned bones of spine, and to hold them in place while healing takes place.

Tranquillising
Quietening and calming.

Transmit
To send.

Transverse colon
A section of the colon (part of the large intestine) that lies across the top of the abdomen, and joins the ascending and descending parts of the colon.

Transverse myelitis
A medical condition in which nerves in the spinal cord become inflamed and lose the ability to send messages. It can be caused by a virus, and affects the insulating layer of material, called myelin, that covers some of the nerve cells and helps them to send messages. Transverse myelitis can cause paralysis, rather like a traumatic spinal cord inju…

Traumatic
Relating to a physical wound or injury. Traumatic spinal cord injury refers to damage to the spinal cord that has occurred as a result of an injury (e.g., following a car accident) rather than a medical condition or complication.

Trunk
The body, excluding the head, neck, arms and legs.

Tumour
A swelling in or on the body. Usually refers to an abnormal growth of cells in body tissue.

Turning
A method used in patients who spend much time in one position in bed. The nursing staff or carer, with or without the help of specialist equipment, moves the person into another position so that no one body area receives continual pressure.

Ulcer
A break in the skin or in the lining of the digestive tract (gut) that fails to heal naturally. Examples of ulcers include pressure sores on the skin and stomach ulcers on the lining of the stomach.

Ultrasonography
Method that uses high frequency sound waves to provide a picture of the inside of the body.

Ultrasound
High frequency sound waves.

Underventilated
Not enough air is passing into and out of the lungs/or part of the lungs, during breathing.

Unmyelinated axon
A nerve cell in which its long thread-like extension (axon) is not covered in a layer of myelin – white, fatty, insulating material. Unmyelinated nerves transmit impulses more slowly than myelinated nerves.

Upper digestive system
The upper parts of the digestive tract – that is the mouth, oesophagus (gullet) and the stomach. These parts of the digestive system are responsible for the initial stages of digestion. This includes both physically breaking down the food by chewing and churning of the stomach contents, as well as producing digestive juices to chemically break the …

Upper motor neurones
Nerve cells (neurones) that start in the brain and run down the spinal cord. Different motor neurones end at different points along the spinal cord. Where they end, they will connect with another type of neurone (lower motor neurones) that will allow their message to continue to travel towards its destination in the body.

Ureter
The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.

Ureteral reflux
Inappropriate passage of urine from the bladder, back towards the kidneys, up the tubes that link them, called ureters.

Ureterovesical junction
A valve-like structure found at the point where the tubes leading from the kidneys (the ureters) join the bladder.

Urethra
The tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.

Urethral catheter
A drainage tube (catheter) inserted into the bladder, by passing it up through the urethra – the natural tube that leads from the bladder to the outside.

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

Urethral trauma
Physical damage to the urethra – the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside.

Urethrogram
A photographic or electronic image of the urethra.

Urinalysis
Analysis of the contents of the urine, for example looking at its appearance, acidity or the presence of protein, sugar or bacteria. Urinalysis can be used as an indication of how various parts of the body, such as the kidney, are working.

Urinary crystals
Small solid deposits formed in urine from calcium and other substances.

Urinary diversion
Surgical redirection of the flow of urine from its normal pathway. It may be needed as a result of serious problems with the bladder or urethra.

Urinary output
The volume of urine produced over a given period of time.

Urinary system
The structures involved in the process of producing, storing and removing urine from the body. It includes the kidneys and the bladder, the tubes that connect them to each other (the ureters) and the tube that connects the bladder to the outside (the urethra).

Urinary tract
Another name for the urinary system – the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) and the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside).

Urinary tract infection (UTI)
A bacterial infection of part of the urinary tract (i.e., of the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra).

Urination
The process of passing urine out from the bladder to the outside.

Urine
The fluid produced by the kidneys to remove waste products, excess water and other substances from the body.

Urine composition
Describes what the urine is made up of – in terms of the water, chemicals and cells (e.g., bacteria).

Urine drainage system
An artificial method of emptying the bladder. For example a catheter (tube) inserted into the bladder at one end, and connected to tubing and a urine collection bag at the other.

Urine flow rates
The rate of production of urine, described as the volume produced in a given time.

Urodynamic studies
Assessment of the pressure and flow of urine in the bladder and connecting tubes. It can be used to determine bladder function.

Urological investigation
An assessment of the functionality of the urinary system (i.e., the kidneys, bladder and connecting tubes).

Uterus
Female reproductive organ where an embryo grows and develops in the months before birth. Also known as the womb.

Vagina
A muscular tube that forms the lower part of the female reproductive system. It joins the womb with the outside.

Valsalva manoeuvre
A method of increasing the pressure within the abdomen by straining to breathe out with the mouth closed. It is used to help pass stools (defecate) and urine.

Vascular
Relating to the blood vessels, e.g., vascular surgery is surgery on the blood vessels.

Vasoconstriction
Narrowing of the diameter of a blood vessel in order to increase the resistance to blood flow and raise the blood pressure.

Vasodilation
Widening of the diameter of a blood vessel in order to decrease the resistance to blood flow.

Vasomotor tone
Constant level of nervous stimulation to the muscles in the blood vessel walls. This gives the muscles a resting level of contraction.

Vein
Type of blood vessel that carries blood back towards the heart from the rest of the body. The vessel walls of veins contain valves which ensure that the blood flows in one direction only – towards the heart.

Venogram
A specific type of angiogram that involves injecting the veins with substances that show up on X-rays, and then taking an X-ray of the appropriate area. It can highlight any blockages in the veins.

Ventilator
An 'artificial lung' – equipment that mechanically takes over the work of breathing, either on a short or long-term basis, when people are unable to breathe normally, e.g., when the muscles involved in breathing are paralysed.

Vertebra
One of the ring shaped bones that sit on top of each other to form the spinal column (backbone) and encase and protect the spinal cord. Plural: Vertebrae

Vibratory stimulation
Generating a nervous system response, by using vibrations on the surface of the skin.

Viral infection
Infection of the body by a virus.

Viruses
Infectious agents that invade and replicate in living cells and can cause disease.

Vital signs
Vital signs include breathing, pulse, blood pressure and body temperature. Thety are indications that the body systems that are essential for keeping a person alive, are still working..

Vitamin B12
A vitamin that is involved in many body functions. A lack of vitamin B12 in the diet affects nearly all body tissues, with some of the most serious affects being on the nervous system. Liver, fish and eggs are all good dietary sources of vitamin B12.

Vitamin D
A vitamin that is required in very small amounts to help absorb calcium into the body and aid its deposit into bones. It promotes healthy bones and teeth, and good sources of dietary vitamin D include egg yolk, liver and oily fish.

Vitamin K
A vitamin that is involved in blood clotting.

Vitamins
Substances that are required in very small amounts for the body to stay healthy, but that must be obtained from the diet as the body is unable to make them for themselves.

Vocal cords
Small bands of tissue within the voice box (larynx) that vibrate to produce the sounds of the voice.

Voiding
Emptying the bladder of urine.

Voluntary
Refers to activities of the body (or muscles) that are under conscious control, e.g., lifting the hand, moving the legs, etc.

Vulva
The external genitals of the female – two pairs of fleshy folds (the labia) surrounding the opening of the vagina and urethra.

Vulval
Describing something relating to the vulva.

Weight-bearing
Supporting heaviness/weight.

Weight-bearing exercise
Exercise that involves supporting some of the body`s weight, e.g., while walking, the legs bear weight.

White blood cells
Type of blood cell that is involved in protecting the body against infection, and producing antibodies.

White matter
Areas in the brain and spinal cord that consist of myelinated nerve cells (neurones). Myelinated nerve cells are those in which their long thread-like extensions (axons) are covered in a layer of white, fatty, insulating material called myelin.

Womb
Female reproductive organ where an embryo grows and develops in the months before birth. Also known as the uterus.

Young Disabled Unit (YDU)
Type of nursing home that specialises in the care of young people with disabilities. The YDU is often a unit within a general nursing home, but some may exist separately. The staff in a YDU will be able to provide most of the care or nursing procedures that are required by the disabled person.