View Poll Results: How has your sense of smell changed since you became spinal cord injured?

16. You may not vote on this poll
  • My sense of smell has significantly improved

    1 6.25%
  • My sense of smell has significantly degraded

    3 18.75%
  • My sense of smell was good before and it is still good

    7 43.75%
  • My sense of smell was bad before and it is still bad

    2 12.50%
  • My sense of smell has changed due to non-SCI causes (like smoking)

    2 12.50%
  • I don't know

    1 6.25%
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Enhanced sense of smell

  1. #1
    Senior Member dnvrdave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Denver, Colorado USA ---- C5/6 Complete 1985

    Enhanced sense of smell

    I just read in "Still Me" by Christopher Reeve (pg 183): "...I had developed an extremely keen sense of smell, a typical consequence of a spinal cord injury."

    Have you seen any research to support this statement? I can't find any.

    I have an extremely keen sense of smell (I'm C5/6, 31 years post injury), but I always thought it was inherited from my mother (but little research supports this claim either).

  2. #2
    My sense of smell and taste altered bigtime. It's normal now!

  3. #3
    I have an extremely poor sense of smell...

    If you guys get your magical superpower, where's mine!!!!

    Just like all blind kids magically learn echolocation so they can get around like bats... I feel so left out.

  4. #4
    But on an only slightly more serious tip, Chris Reeves was a celebrity who was big in the 80s injured in the mid 90s. I have absolutely no basis for this and am just spitballing here, but if I were a celebrity in the 80s, I might be using a fair bit of cocaine, and in the 80s like 1/3 of adults smoked cigarettes.

    Perhaps this "great enhancement" of sense of smell had more to do with hard partying smokers no longer snorting cocaine up their noses or smoking every day because they were hospitalized for months and hooked up to a ventilator (and obviously broke so there was no more money for cocaine).

    Just an idea... I sure can't think of a physiologic reason why a spinal cord injury would magically improve any other sensation... although now that I think about it my eyes stopped getting worse shortly after my SCI... could just be random coincidence or... just maybe... my super power is VISION! Yay, now I only still have 20/800 vision instead of even worse. It's about time I got something out of this deal.

  5. #5

    I feel a little bad for my above two, mildly douchebaggy responses, so I googled a little. If anything the first (admittedly poorly done) study I found would suggest the opposite, that sense of smell is worse in those of us with spinal cord injuries. Study is way to small to draw any conclusions from though.

  6. #6
    Many have lost a good sense of smell. My DIL called a couple weeks ago and said they had an unusual odor in the house and she didn't know what it was. I asked my son if he could smell anything (and of course he's lost almost all sense of smell since SCI) so that was a silly question. I drove over, opened the back door and was immediately hit with the smell of natural gas. I checked the two hot water heaters and two furnaces but nothing was wrong. When I went out to the kitchen I found one of the burners on the gas stove turned on ever so slightly. I opened up the windows and doors to air everything out. Before SCI, my son could easily detect natural gas or hot electrical wires.

  7. #7
    My sense of smell was normal post injury up until around the mid 1980s. I went over backwards in my wc and planted the back of my head into the asphalt pavement. In about 2 weeks my sense of smell was screwed up. This is a common problem following a head injury. The brain center responsible for dealing with smell is located at the back of the head. Some of my sense of smell has returned but I still cannot smell onions and ripe bananas smell like fingernail polish.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @

    See my personal webpage @

  8. #8
    Senior Member dnvrdave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Denver, Colorado USA ---- C5/6 Complete 1985
    Quote Originally Posted by dnvrdave View Post
    I just read in "Still Me" by Christopher Reeve (pg 183): "...I had developed an extremely keen sense of smell, a typical consequence of a spinal cord injury."
    Fascinating! Since 0 of 13 people said their sense of smell improved after SCI, I think we can conclude that Christopher Reeve's experience was atypical.
    Last edited by dnvrdave; 12-06-2016 at 12:18 PM.

  9. #9
    I also find CR's claim interesting, since it is well-known that one of the side effects of being ventilator dependent is loss of sense of smell, since air does not enter through the nose when breathing, instead through the trach, which has no sensory fibers for odor. I doubt very much if he was a coke fiend, but it was common for actors, etc. to still be using tobacco products in the 1980s and 1990s, and that can also impair sense of smell (as can TBI).


  10. #10
    Senior Member CapnGimp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Alpine, TX USA male T4complete
    Blog Entries
    Mine did improve and I could smell better than a dog, it seems at times. In the early years in my injury I was using various inhalants as usual, in spite of that, my sense of smell was almost a problem at times. It has remained better than prior to injury, all these years. Now I don't inhale anything but air, I could get a job as a drug dog, lol.

Similar Threads

  1. can this photo be enhanced?
    By cass in forum Life
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 01-02-2013, 03:28 PM
  2. Very Little to No Sense of Smell
    By Meg1 in forum Care
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 09-27-2005, 05:25 PM
  3. Sense of Smell
    By Meg1 in forum Care
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-07-2004, 06:34 PM
  4. Sense Of Smell Linked To Depression
    By Max in forum Health & Science News
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-13-2003, 02:36 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-29-2002, 08:08 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts