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Spinal cord injury study to involve stem cells, virtual reality

Facilitating recovery from spine-related injuries remains a major goal of doctors involved in regenerative medicine. After all, many patients who suffer from spinal cord injury and paralysis in West Virginia were active people prior to the incidents that suddenly led to their life-altering injuries. A new study that recently received approval from an institutional review board may yield helpful insights into the use of stem cells derived from bone marrow to help spinal cord injury victims.

The study involves giving six paraspinal (near the spinal nerves) stem cell injections to a paralyzed patient. The injections would take place around the damaged area. The patient would also be given intranasal (in the nose) and intravenous (in the arm vein) stem cells. However, additions to the treatment might include virtual reality visualization or exoskeletal mobility to offer extra stimulation.

The virtual reality aspect of the treatment is particularly exciting because engaging a patient's brain in thinking about moving his or her legs will cause the brain to send signals to any partially functional or remaining motor neurons. However, the use of an exoskeleton also appears to be promising. It involves utilizing motor-powered supports to help patients suffering from paraplegia to walk or simply stand. The upcoming study is the first one to combine the use of stem cells with the use of virtual reality and/or an exoskeleton. The hope among scientists is that these tactics will help to regenerate sensory and motor neurons.

Sometimes, spinal cord injury happens in a car accident or in a fall for which someone else is to blame. In such a situation, the victim has the right to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party, seeking damages. A monetary award in a successfully fought suit in West Virginia may help with covering medical costs and other losses associated with the spinal cord injury.

Source: chicagoeveningpost.com, "MD Stem Cells Announces New Spinal Cord Stem Cell Treatment Combined with Exoskeleton and Virtual Reality", Ari Roul, Feb. 12, 2018

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