4 Promising New Technologies to Help Treat Spinal Cord Injury Victims Hurt in Car Accidents or Slip and Falls
A spinal cord injury not only irrevocably changes the victim’s life, but it also profoundly impacts family and friends. Until recently, there was frustratingly little medical hope for severe spinal cord accident victims. However, several technologies on the horizon offer the potential promise of sensation and movement restoration, along with a better quality of life for paralyzed people.
- Stem Cells
Stem cells offer great potential for treating various serious conditions, and now spinal cord therapy joins that list. Researchers from Japan’s Hokkaido University, along with an international scientific team, implanted stem cells into rats with severed spinal cords. Considerable regeneration of severed nerve fibers resulted, and the rodents’ ability to move their front legs improved. In experimental stem cell procedures performed at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, four out of six patients experienced improvement in both motor strength and function, according to the company sponsoring the trial. Human clinical trials are likely several years away.
- Repeated Muscle Stimulation
Two patients injured more than two years previously received daily, combined transcranial and peripheral nerve muscle stimulation therapy for six months at Finland’s BioMag Laboratory. While the research cohort consisted of just two people, the results were nothing short of remarkable. By the end of the intervention, the paraplegic patient could bend both ankles, and the quadriplegic individual regained the ability to grasp objects. Further studies are ongoing.
- Biodegradable Polymers
Researchers at the renowned Mayo Clinic have developed a biodegradable polymer that may change the way spinal injuries are treated. A surgeon plants these sponge-like polymers into spinal cord gaps resulting from injury, and bodily fluids cause them to expand to the correct proportions. Testing on cadavers commences before human trials begin.
- Epidural Stimulation
Epidural stimulation consists of a chip implanted in the spinal cord that sends continuous electric current. Preliminary studies featuring epidural stimulation report restored bladder, bowel and sexual function in spinal cord injury victims. That was not the original intent – epidural stimulation was conceived to aid in standing and stepping. When the stimulator is active, leg control and weight bearing abilities are enhanced. Researchers need more funding to continue this hopeful work on epidural stimulation.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury resulting from an accident, call an experienced attorney at the Kelly Law Team at 602.283.4122 for insight and a free case assessment.