Progress Being Made in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

Aug 2013

Our Buffalo injury lawyers know that a spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating injuries a person can endure. Unfortunately, as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports, around 200,000 people in the United States are currently living with spinal cord injuries, most of which were caused by accidents. In fact, around 46 percent of all spinal cord injuries happen as a result of car accidents and another 22 percent occur in falls.

While a spinal cord injury has life-changing consequences, Health Central indicates that some progress is being made in assisting victims suffering from permanent spinal damage. While the progress is slow, every step taken toward finding new treatment and solutions is a positive step for those throughout the United States who are coping with paralysis due to spinal cord damage.

Spinal Cord Damage Is Permanent, But Progress is Being Made on Treatments

When you sever your spinal cord or do damage to your spinal cord, there is no cure for the spinal cord injury you sustain. You may experience varying degrees of lost functionality and lost feeling depending upon where along the spine the injury occurred and depending upon whether the injury was a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) or a partial injury.

Because of the serious impairments that a spinal cord injury can cause, the CDC estimates that the average annual medical cost associated with SCI is between $15,000 and $30,000. The estimated lifetime cost is between $500,000 and $3 million, depending on the extent of the injury.

These costs are astronomical, and of course the costs go beyond the financial, since those who suffer a spinal cord injury will experience a significant decline in quality of life. A spinal cord injury victim may be unable to care for himself at all and may need ongoing and sometimes round-the-clock medical help.

Unfortunately, many of these injuries occur to very young people, and impact the rest of their lives. As the CDC reports, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of spinal cord injuries happen to people between the ages of 15 and 35. These young victims have decades of living with a spinal cord injury causing impairment.

Health Central, however, suggests that progress is being made and that there may be reason for spinal cord injury victims to hope for a cure in their lifetime. According to Health Central, a team of scientists from the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve Medical School have successfully restored bladder function to rats who had sustained severe injuries to the spinal cord.

Scientists were able to restore bladder function using a new technique to regenerate nerve cells across the site of injury.  When a spinal cord injury happens, the nerve cells in the brainstorm become disconnected from the nerve cells located in the spinal cord, preventing the transmission of messages. The body forms scar tissue at the site of the injury, preventing nerve function from being restored. Scientists, however, were able to take healthy nerves from other parts of the body, graft the healthy nerves to the damaged areas, and add chemicals that disrupted scar formation and promoted cell growth.

Successful re-growth of brain stem cells occurred at the injury site, allowing the rats to regain control of their bladder function. This is the first time ever that an animal has been able to urinate normally after a spinal cord injury.

Hopefully, this new development means that progress is being made and the thousands who suffer spinal cord injuries in car accidents or slip and falls may be able to find treatment in the future to restore functionality lost due to the accident.

If you’ve been injured in Buffalo or the surrounding area, contact the Law Offices of James Morris today for a free consultation. Call 800-477-9044.

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