Development of a skin temperature map for dermatomes in individuals with spinal cord injury: a cross-sectional study


Study design

Cross-sectional study.


The aim of this study was to map the skin temperature (Tsk) of individuals with SCI and compare able-bodied individuals, and among the groups to demonstrate the effects of differences in the levels of injury (paraplegia and tetraplegia with high and low injuries).


Outpatient clinic, Brazil.


Individuals with tetraplegia (n = 20), paraplegia (n = 21), and able-bodied (n = 11) individuals were recruited. A noncontact infrared thermometer (IRT) was used to measure three times the Tsk at the forehead, and at the C2 to S2 dermatomes. Core body temperature was measured at the axilla using the IRT and three other clinical thermometers.


Autonomic regulation is impaired by the injury. A Tsk map was constructed for the three groups. Significant differences in the Tsk of dermatomes were observed when comparing individuals with SCI and the able-bodied at the following dermatomes: C3, C7, T2, T3, T8, T9, L1, L2, L4, and S2. When comparing individuals with tetraplegia and able-bodied individuals, the dermatomes that showed significant differences were C5, C6, C8, T1, T10, L3, and S1. Dermatomes C5–C7, and T5 showed significant differences between individuals with tetraplegia and those with paraplegia. For L5 and S1 in paraplegia significant differences were found when comparing high with low injury.


A Tsk map on dermatomes in individuals with SCI was implemented, and showed a significant difference between able-bodied. As temperature is a parameter for analyzing autonomic function, the study could benefit rehabilitation by providing baseline values when constructing clinical protocols.

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Fig. 1: Devices for the Tsk Measurements.

Data availability

The support to this study is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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The authors thank the CNPq—National Council for Science and Technological Development #140215/2014–0 and FAPESP #2016/50253-0—São Paulo Research Foundation.

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JRT was the principal researcher of this research, who performed data collection, analyzed the results and discussion of the data. RAT was the co-author and assistant researcher, who assisted in the elaboration of the proposed method, in the interpretation and discussion of the data, and in data collection. MB performed the statistical analyses. CAF was the co-author, who assisted in the preparation of the manuscript, statistical analyses, discussion of data, and proofreading of the manuscript. ACJ was the academic advisor, who proposed the initial concept of this paper and provided guidance and assistance in the development and execution of the research. Each author has contributed substantially to the research, preparation, and production of the paper and approves of its submission to the Journal.

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Correspondence to Janaina R. Tancredo.

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Tancredo, J.R., Tambascia, R.A., Borges, M. et al. Development of a skin temperature map for dermatomes in individuals with spinal cord injury: a cross-sectional study. Spinal Cord (2020).

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