Part 2: Lack of Temperature Sensation for People After Stroke & SCI

Cause of SCI & Lack of Temperature Sensation 


temperature sensation from Spinal Cord & Brain
Spinal Cord & Brain

The cause of the lack of temperature sensation and SCI (spinal cord injury) and was a brain stem strokeinfarct and herniation. My brain had swelled and slammed into my spinal cord. (I have a SCI [spinal cord injury and brain injury or stroke]). Then I fell into a coma. When I woke up I was a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. Something as simple as use of a hair dryer or use of a hot gel pack became dangerous.

Lack of Temperature Sensation Resulted in Heat Stroke  
temperature sensation – Inability to regulate body temperature
Body of Jessica Kennedy Over Heats in High Temperatures

In the summer of 2002 I went shopping. Then I returned to my van and my caregiver strapped my wheelchair into place. I live in Texas and the temperature had soared above 100° and my caregiver lost the keys. Consequently the van’s interior was like an oven and without the air conditioner my temperature rose. Due to the inability of my body to regulate my temperature, I got heat stroke and passed out. People with SCI (spinal cord injury) don’t sweat below their injury and won’t be able to cool down. My injury was at my brain stem.

Lack of Temperature Sensation Resulted in Third Degree Burn  
temperature sensation lack endangers her with use of Gel Hot or Cold packs due to temperature sensation deficits
Gel Hot or Cold pack

In 2005 I asked for a heated gel pack for the chronic pain in my hand.  (A towel wasn’t wrapped around the hot gel pack. It was a necessary precaution against burns.) Although I don’t have temperature sensation, I can still sense pain ease with the application of heat. Others comparatively recognize when something is too hot or burns them, but I don’t.


6 Similar Blisters Pebbled hand Jessica Kennedy Result of lack of sensation
6 Similar Blisters Pebbled the hand Jessica Kennedy
temperature sensation Hand burn from Result of lack of sensation
Hand burn






I became engrossed while I wrote my memoir and forgot about the hot gel pack. The caregiver forgot about it, too. When I realized the pack had been on my hand for twenty minutes and remembered my lack temperature sensation looked at my hand and it bore a bright red burn with blisters. As can be seen to this day I have scars from the blisters  of the third degree burn.

Lack of Temperature Sensation Resulted in Dangerously Low Body Temperature
temperature sensation Texas freezing weather
Texas freezing weather

In 2016 the heater in my home broke. The temperature in Texas plummeted to 16°.  The house’s temperature wasn’t much higher and my body was like ice. My temperature fell to 95°. I piled on four thick blankets and a heating blanket, wore a wool knit cap and thermal pajamas, but it took 14 hours to get my temperature to reach normal.

Temperature Sensation Lesson

temperature sensation Lessons Learned

Usually I relied on my caregiver to monitor my use of things that might result in an injury or the weather and how I dressed. To be frank I can lay the blame on my caregiver, but that’s a crock.  I am a forty five year old ventilator-dependent quadriplegic not a child. If I want to be treated like an adult then I need to take responsibility for myself and lack of temperature sensation. It is my job to monitor my care through my direction of my caregivers. I can’t feel temperature, but I can be observant through the use of my caregiver’s senses. In short ask questions, take responsibility and direct my care.

  • Carry a thermometer in the car ALWAYS. Take your temperature in hot and cold weather often.
  • Before you enter have your caregiver warm or cool the car 
  • ASK – Do you look flushed or does your body feel cool to the touch? (Use wrist to check temperature.)
  • When you use heat ask the caregiver to check skin often every 3-5 minutes or more often if the first time and ALWAYS the LOWEST TEMPERATURE. 
Set a Timer / Alarm

Hot tip Set a timer to remember to monitor those without temperature sensation

My caregiver sets  an alarm to check and be sure the skin isn’t burned when I use a hot gel pack or to check my temperature in hot or cold weather. When I work I forget to be cautious.   Therefore it is necessary to set alarms. If you or a caregiver with a client that has a problem with temperature sensation  set alarms on your cell phone. A simple oven timer or like one shown above on the right for a reminders. 

#HeatStroke #quadrplegia #SCI #SpinalCordInjury #Stroke  

Read Part 1 Touch Sensation for a greater understanding of Jessica Kennedy DAWS touch sensation.

If you have a SCI or have had a stroke and want to share your story or if you have any questions about temperature sensation or just want to share anything leave a comment.