Spinal cord injury sufferers new hope

Nearly one quarter of a million people suffer from the effects of spinal cord injuries. Auto accidents and workplace accidents account for over 50 percent of new cases. In some instances, these spinal cord injuries can cause permanent or temporary paralysis.

Treatment for a spinal cord injury can be very expensive. The average treatment costs in the first couple of years after the injury range from approximately $250,000 to $750,000 annually. The lifetime costs of a person’s treatment and rehabilitation can approach $3 million. With these injuries typically affecting people under 30, victims can face a long existence of grueling rehabilitation and a diminished quality of life.

Two recent studies provide hope. A 2013 study shows that a combination of physical therapy and stem cell treatment can repair many lost neurological functions in spinal cord injury victims. In this study, scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School conducted a clinical trial of spinal cord injury patients who had not responded previously to six months of treatments. The doctors placed the patients into two groups, one receiving only physical therapy and the other group combination treatment. The combination treatment group indicated improvements after just a month. After two more months, some patients previously unable to control their bladders could now relieve themselves without catheters. After 18 months, some patients previously unable to walk independently could walk without support.

Previously, in a 2012 study, doctors performed the first human cell transplant on a spinal cord patient. Doctors grew cells from the patients’ own extracted nerve tissues, and then placed these cells back into the patients. Researchers plan to monitor the patients for another two years to measure overall improvement.

Scientific developments in stem cell research may ultimately help many spinal cord injury victims recover many of their lost functions and/or physical sensations. While the medical community is hopeful for a cure, it recognizes that substantial work lies ahead.

If you are suffering from a spinal cord injury, speak with San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyer, Steven P. Roberts. He can help you pursue the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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