Paralysis is a common result of spinal cord injuries and some traumatic brain injuries. Because this can be such a serious injury, with significant consequences for the victim, you might think that researchers have invested in finding a cure for this issue. While research is done to reduce the effects of paralysis, it has not yet been altogether cured. On this page, I will discuss some current research into paralysis, as well as the challenges to finding a cure.
Can the Spine Repair Itself?
Unlike some other parts of the human body, a person’s spinal cord can’t heal itself. That being said, there are ways to minimize the impact of paralysis. But, finding a cure is very difficult. This is because when spinal cord axons are torn or crushed in an accident, cellular and biochemical events occur that cause problems in the body. These events result in:
- Axons being stripped of protective myelin insulation
- Rapid increase of inflammation in the spine
- The killing of neurons
In addition, there are changes in the body’s release of neurotransmitters and blood flow in the body. These changes cause additional damage to the body. Once damage occurs, the part of the spine that sustained the damage can no longer send signals to the brain and the rest of the body.
The injury to the spinal cord is a very complicated issue. Because this damage occurs in individualized cells, the body can’t repair or regenerate these types of cells and the spine can’t heal itself.
Learning that the spine won’t repair itself can be disheartening for those who have been injured and their families. Unfortunately, because spinal cord injuries are so complex, so are treatment options. The types of therapy that could heal a spine currently do not exist. The technology has not yet been discovered.
This is the case in part because funding for spinal cord research is relatively small compared to funding for research of more prevalent injuries and diseases. Not enough research has been done yet to identify a cure.
However, some research has been done, and there are some treatment options available to those suffering from spinal cord injuries. Common treatments that could be promising in the future are:
- Microsurgery and radiation
- Stem cell treatment
- Spinal cord regeneration
- Scar formation suppression
- Peripheral nerve rerouting
These treatments and others seek to protect and rejuvenate nerves, replace cells, reroute nerves, and help the spinal cord regenerate. More research has to be done into these types of treatment, but it is a start.
While there is no cure for paralysis, there are treatments available that could help your loved one. Depending on their injury, they may be able to participate in surgeries or therapies to improve their quality of life. They also might assist in new research projects. To learn more about spinal cord research and treatment, you can contact my office. I am happy to answer your questions and discuss your loved one’s situation.