20 Aug The Severity of Spinal Cord Injuries and Modern Breakthroughs
The spinal cord is a crucial part of the central nervous system. It contains nerve axons that help the brain communicate with the rest of the body, as well as nerve cell circuits that facilitate coordinated movements like running, walking, and bowel movements. Damage to the spine can be very debilitating as there will be no moments or sensations below the point of the injury. Spinal cord injury results in partial or complete paralysis from the neck down.
Road accidents, severe falls, and other types of direct trauma to the backbone may result in spinal cord injuries, often causing irreparable loss of sensory and motor activities, as well as sexual dysfunction and problems with bowel movements.
In the United States alone, billions of dollars are expended on medical costs of patients with spinal cord injuries. Yet, patients have not been able to recover completely. A large part of the expensive medical costs is used on therapies and surgeries that, most times, only help patients avoid worse symptoms.
As a result of the severity of spinal cord injuries, many clinical studies and trials have been conducted. There have been a few breakthroughs over the years, especially in recent years.
Two of the most profound groundbreaking innovations in the treatment of spinal cord injury are spinal cord epidural stimulation and stem cell therapy
Spinal Cord Epidural Stimulation
This therapy involves placing a special device over the spinal column. This device sends imperceptible electrical pulses through the spine to block pain waves from the brain and facilitate the return of certain motor and sensory activities in patients with spinal cord injuries. Doctors have used scES and physical therapy to treat spinal cord injuries, though the chances of full recovery are still very slim.
Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can be reprogrammed to form other types of cells for cellular regeneration and repair of damages. There are rich deposits of stem cells in amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, the bone marrow, adipose tissues, the skin, mouth, and teeth. When stem cells are injected into an injured part of the body, there is a high possibility of tissue repair spurred by the growth of new, healthy cells in the area.
Several studies involving rats have shown that stem cells could restore almost complete motor and sensory functions after damage to the spinal cord. In one study, researchers injected a paralyzed rat with stem cells. The rodent paralyzed several weeks before the therapy, began to walk almost immediately after receiving the stem cells. The scientists said they used stem cells from the human mouth in the pioneering study.
Apart from animal studies, there have also been successes in clinical trials with human participants. In these studies, participants paralyzed from the neck down in ghastly accidents recovered certain sensory and motor functions after receiving stem cell injections. Kristopher Boesen went from being paralyzed from the neck down to being able to feed himself without help, write his name, and even lift weights.
Stem cell therapy and other regenerative procedures are ushering in a new era in medicine. You or a loved one can benefit from the R3’s amniotic derived stem cells Arizona centers for cutting edge treatments for various conditions.