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52 CHAPTER 13: THE SPINAL CORD, SPINAL NERVES, AND SOMATIC REFLEXES Chapter Overview Introduction Professor Saladin first discusses the activities and morphology of the spinal cord including the meninges and the spinal tracts. He then moves on to illuminate the spinal nerves and the plexes that are formed and their reflexes. Of special note is his treatment of the sensory organs which provide input to these reflexes. Finally, the author clarifies certain developmental, infectious, and genetic problems that can afflict the spinal nerve cord. Key Concepts Here are some concepts that students should have a better understanding of after reading this chapter: functions of the three meninges; anatomy and major ascending and descending tracts; structure of nerves and ganglia; the innervation of the skin and dermatomes; somatic reflexes (including flexor, crossed extension, and the Golgi tendon reflexes) and the proprioceptive organs; embryology and its relationship to spina bifida; genetic disorders related to the spinal cord and nerves; and traumatic injuries of the spinal cord. Topics for Discussion 1. Traumatic and other (such as those produced by inappropriate lifting) spinal injuries are a particular tragedy and students may be interested in using the material in this chapter in trying to reconcile the symptoms of those they know of who have had this experience. 2. Osteoarthritis can also lead to significant spinal cord and spinal nerve effects. It may be possible to have students interview patients with this type of damage and report back to the class. 3. It is really worth encouraging students, especially those of reproductive age, to consider taking folic acid to reduce the chance of having a baby with spina bifida and other neural tube defects. The real conundrum here is that a deficiency of folic acid (or folicin) can cause a lot of problems and it needs to be taken before she gets pregnant. This vitamin is cheap, effective, and can be of significant benefit.
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This note was uploaded on 02/09/2012 for the course BIO 102 taught by Professor William during the Spring '11 term at Harvard.

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