Spinal Cord Injury

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Spinal Cord Injury

Postby Admin on Mon May 25, 2009 2:49 am

What is Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. Most injuries to the spinal cord don't completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy the axons, extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body. An injury to the spinal cord can damage a few, many, or almost all of these axons. Some injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others will result in complete paralysis.

Is there any treatment?

Improved emergency care for people with spinal cord injuries and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation can minimize damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities. Respiratory complications are often an indication of the severity of spinal cord injury About one-third of those with injury to the neck area will need help with breathing and require respiratory support. The steroid drug methylprednisolone appears to reduce the damage to nerve cells if it is given within the first 8 hours after injury. Rehabilitation programs combine physical therapies with skill-building activities and counseling to provide social and emotional support.

Someone with a spinal cord injury will have a long road of rehabilitation ahead of them, usually at a Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Unit and Rehabilitation Centre or Spinal Injury Unit, and it is important that they keep their sense of humor on their bad days to help them maintain a positive attitude. Generally, Paraplegics will be in hospital for around 5 months, where as Quadriplegics can be in hospital for around 6 - 8 months, whilst they undergo rehabilitation.

Both Paraplegics and Quadriplegics should have some kind of rehabilitation and physiotherapy before they are discharged from hospital, to help maximise their potential, or help them get used to life in a wheelchair, and to help teach techniques which make everyday life easier.
Disabled sports, and wheelchair based sports can be an excellent way to build stamina, and help in rehabilitation by giving confidence and better social skills.

What is the prognosis?

Spinal cord injuries are classified as either complete or incomplete. An incomplete injury means that the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost. People with incomplete injuries retain some motor or sensory function below the injury. A complete injury is indicated by a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury. People who survive a spinal cord injury will most likely have medical complications such as chronic pain and bladder and bowel dysfunction, along with an increased susceptibility to respiratory and heart problems. Successful recovery depends upon how well these chronic conditions are handled day to day.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts spinal cord research in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country. Advances in research are giving doctors and patients hope that repairing injured spinal cords is a reachable goal. Advances in basic research are also being matched by progress in clinical research, especially in understanding the kinds of physical rehabilitation that work best to restore function. Some of the more promising rehabilitation techniques are helping spinal cord injury patients become more mobile.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Spinal Cord Injury Clinical Trials
Throughout the U.S. and Worldwide: http://clinicaltrials.gov/search/term=Spinal%20Cord%20Injury
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sci/sci.htm#Clinical_trials, http://apparelyzed.com/

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Re: Spinal Cord Injury

Postby Mary on Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:04 am

Thank you for the information, it was very informative and the video helped me understand Spinal Cord Injury in more depth and detail.

I just want to add to this with more information about potential treatments:

Potential Treatments

Treatment options for acute, traumatic non-penetrating spinal cord injuries include the administration of a high dose of an anti-inflammatory agent, methylprednisolone, within 8 hours of injury. This recommendation is primarily based on the National Acute Spinal Cord Injury Studies (NASCIS) I and II. However, in a third study, methylprednisolone failed to demonstrate an effect in comparison to placebo. Additionally, due to increased risk of infections, the use of this anti-inflammatory drug after spinal cord injuries is no longer recommended. Presently, administration of cold saline acutely after injury is gaining popularity, but there is a paucity of empirical evidence for the beneficial effects of therapeutic hypothermia.

Scientists are investigating many promising avenues for treatment of spinal cord injury. Numerous articles in the medical literature describe research, mostly in animal models, aimed at reducing the paralyzing effects of injury and promoting regrowth of functional nerve fibers. Despite the devastating effects of the condition, commercial funding for research investigating a cure after spinal cord injury is limited, partially due to the small size of the population of potential beneficiaries. Despite this limitation, a number of experimental treatments have reached controlled human trials. In addition, therapeutic strategies involving neuronal protection and regeneration are also being investigated in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Multiple sclerosis. There are many similarities between these conditions of the CNS and spinal cord injuries, thus increasing the potential for discovery of a treatment after spinal cord injuries.

Advances in identification of an effective therapeutic target after spinal cord injury have been newsworthy, and considerable media attention is often drawn towards new developments in this area. However, aside from methylprednisolone, none of these developments have reached even limited use in the clinical care of human spinal cord injury in the U.S. Around the world, proprietary centers offering stem cell transplants and treatment with neuroregenerative substances are fueled by glowing testimonial reports of neurological improvement. Independent validation of the results of these treatments is lacking. However, in January 2009, the Geron Corporation received FDA clearance to begin human safety testing of its stem cell treatment candidate, GRNOPC1, on newly injured patients with complete thoracic injury. A diverse array of other treatments are being researched, including biomaterial solutions, cell replacement therapies, and electronic stimulative devices.

Spinal Cord Injury



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Re: Spinal Cord Injury

Postby BruceLeeRoy on Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:11 am

Thank you for the information regarding spinal cord injury AbleSea admin and Mary- this has helped me a lot and I will be printing and sharing the information with my class tomorrow.

Keep up the great work!
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Spinal Cord Injury

Postby HelenT on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:23 pm

Six weeks ago my husband had and infection after spinal cord surgery. He had an abscess that compressed his spinal cord. His surgery was in the lumbar region but the abcess traveled up and did damage to the thoracic region. He does not have any feeling below T4. Since the injury he has not had any imporvement at all. We have been told that the earlier he has some feeling the better the results will be, so as the days go be we are all becoming very dicouraged. Has anyone had a similar experience?
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