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New Research Shows Promise For Treatment Of Spinal Cord Injury


The prognosis for spinal cord injury is improving all the time, as treatments to restore lost functions become closer to being clinically available.  If you suffered a spinal cord injury yesterday and were diagnosed with paralysis, the chances that you would be able to walk again would be much greater than if you had suffered a similar injury 20 years ago.  Meanwhile, motorized wheelchairs, exoskeletons, cars with hand-controlled brakes and accelerators, and employment laws about disability accommodations help people with paraplegia live more independently than was possible a generation ago.  Despite this, a spinal cord injury changes your life profoundly; living with spinal cord injury requires costly home modifications and medical devices, years of treatment and therapy, and a lifetime of physical discomfort.  Accidental traumatic injuries, including motor vehicle accidents, account for over a quarter of cases of paralysis.  If you suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a traffic accident, contact a Columbia car accident lawyer.

Activating Neurons Through Electrical Stimulation

The current issue of Nature includes a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland.  They made a molecular map of all the neurons in the spinal cord to decide which ones to target with electrical stimulation to rebuild neurological pathways to enable movement in areas of the body below the site of a spinal cord injury.  They implanted nine study participants with a soft electrode array that stimulated the targeted neurons.  The stimulation enabled patients to move their legs, and some of them retained this ability several weeks after the device was removed.  Similar studies have previously been conducted on animals.

Gene Therapy for Nerve Regeneration

Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael of the University of California Los Angeles is among the researchers who believe that the most promising treatment for spinal cord injury is not electrical stimulation of the spinal cord below the site of the injury, but rather injectable or oral drugs to promote nerve regeneration.  A cytokine (immune signaling protein) called interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been shown to regenerate nerve tissue in animal studies, enabling formerly paralyzed mice to regain the ability to walk.  Last year, researchers in Bochum, Germany used a genetically modified virus to carry artificial IL-6, which has much stronger effects of nerve regeneration, to the central nervous systems of mice with spinal cord injuries, and the mice began walking again several weeks after receiving a single injection.  Treatments like these may be the most feasible way to enable humans who have become paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury to walk again, since it is less costly than surgically implanting a device and it avoids the risk of complications from surgery.

Let Us Help You Today

The personal injury lawyers at the Stanley Law Group can help you recover compensation if you were involved in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury as a result.  Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.


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