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Spinal cord injury patients might benefit from stem cells

Spinal cord injuries in West Virginia can lead to real physical problems, such as the inability to move one’s legs or hands. People with spinal cord injuries might feel hopeless about ever being able to reclaim their normal bodily function, and this can be challenging for those who are naturally independent. However, researchers are tapping into the power of stem cells for treating patients with spinal cord injury.

Scientists are essentially inserting certain types of cells into a patient’s spinal cord through direct transplantation. One group of people who participated in a current trial did not have any sensory perception or mobility below the area where they were injured. Meanwhile, patients in a second group had less severe injuries. They maintained sensory perception beneath the area where they suffered injury but were still paralyzed.

Scientists involved in the trials said they are seeing multiple patients regain function in their spinal cords. This indicates that transplantation may be triggering something that wasn’t working in their spinal cords to work again. Even if patients weren’t treated until a few months or even two years after their injury, they still benefited from sensory gains from the trial treatment.

There is an estimated total of 12,000 new spinal cord injury cases each year. The number of individuals in the United States with these injuries reached more than 270,000 last year, with nearly half of these patients being 16 to 30 years old. Vehicle accidents constitute one common cause of spinal cord injury. If a person in West Virginia suffers an injury because another motorist was driving negligently or recklessly on our state’s roads, they have the right to file a personal injury claim against the person, seeking restitution that may help him or her to cover the cost of spine-related treatments and even pain and suffering resulting from the accident.

Source: beckersspine.com, "5 Updates on StemCells Trial for Spinal Cord Injury Patients", Laura Miller, May 20, 2014

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