The spinal cord is one of the worst parts of the body to injure, because it controls nerves that lead to almost every other part of the body. Trauma to the spinal cord can cause all kinds of problems, ranging from chronic pain to paralysis. It is no wonder that medical researchers currently make research into the treatment of spinal cord injuries a reality. As with so many other medical conditions, access to the best treatments greatly affects the prognosis for spinal cord injuries. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, you deserve to have access to the best treatments available. These are some avenues of research that show promise as far as restoring sensation and function to the limbs of people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.
Stem Cell Research
The controversy over treatments involving embryonic stem cells is what generates the most headlines about stem cell research, but it is actually possible to develop treatments using stem cells taken from adults. If you are reading this blog, your body is full of stem cells; they exist throughout your life in many of the tissues in the body.
Stem cells are precursors to the cells of many organs and tissues; for example, neural stem cells can differentiate into various types of nerve cell. While most nerves in the body regenerate themselves, the spinal cord does not. Therefore, it may be possible to enlist the help of stem cells taken from other nerves to help the injured spinal cord repair itself.
Mesenchymal stem cells are even more versatile; they can differentiate into almost any kind of cell. In adults, these cells are present in bone marrow and body fat. Mesenchymal stem cells can also be taken from the umbilical cord shortly after a baby is born. (For as long as you have had a belly button, you have not needed your umbilical cord). Because mesenchymal stem cells are so versatile, they also offer promise for spinal cord repair.
Researchers are also working on other treatments that do not involve stem cells but may help people with spinal cord injuries regain their health.
- Hydrogels – Hydrogels are synthetic materials that resemble substances produced by the cells. They could be used to contain or fill in the injured area near the spinal cord to prevent damage to the spinal cord itself. Current research involves using hydrogels as injections or as spinal cord implants.
- Robotic exoskeletons – These devices could help people with damaged spinal cords regain the ability to walk. They use functional electrical stimulation to deliver electrical impulses to the muscles, similarly to the way a healthy spinal cord does. Meanwhile, they provide support for the legs.
Contact Walton Telken, LLC About Spinal Cord Injuries
Emerging treatments offer great hope for people with spinal cord injuries, but all of these treatments are very expensive. If your injury was the result of someone’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation that would enable you to pay for life-changing treatments. Contact Walton Telken, LLC to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.