Urinary Incontinence

A spinal cord injury, regardless of its level, mostly impairs the bladder control. Nerves located at the bottom end of the spine control proper function of organs, including the bladder. When an injury happens, those nerves are disconnected from the brain and they do not receive its messages. Consequently, neither do the bladder muscles.

The brain, as the central system, does not control the bladder function anymore and the urinary incontinence develops. This bladder disorder is also called the neurogenic bladder.

The neurogenic bladder can be a consequence of an illness, congenital brain defects, spinal cord injuries or spina bifida.

Urinarna inkotinencija
Urinarna inkotinencija

Although, if we develop the neurogenic bladder, we will not be able to control our bladder as we used to before the injury, there are various medical aids and techniques available in order to solve this problem and have the ability to regularly empty the bladder.

There are two types of the neurogenic bladder that compromise the normal bladder function:

  1. when the bladder is not active enough, it loses its ability to contract and empty itself completely
  2. when the bladder is overly active (spastic), it is a subject of frequent and unpredictable urination caused by involuntary nervous reflexes (spasms) typical for spinal cord injuries.

During the stage of shock and denial (after the injury), the spastic bladder can last for months. It loses its elasticity in the process and one can experience urine leakage as a symptom of the overflow incontinence. This phase is followed by an overly active phase of involuntary filling and emptying of the bladder. When this happens, a normal function of filling and emptying of kidneys is also interrupted and that can compromise the healthy function of kidneys. Catheterization is a solution for such medical symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of impact can a spinal cord injury have on my bladder?

Spinal cord injuries change the function of the bladder muscles and block the signals the brain sends to the bladder. When the spinal cord is injured, a normal function of urination through relaxation and contraction of the sphincter is disabled. This disorder also has an impact on your ability to determine when the bladder is full.

Depending on the level of the spinal cord injury and the condition of the person suffering from the spinal cord injury, the bladder can be overactive – frequently filled and emptied; or insufficiently active.