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Losing motor function due to spinal injuries is understandably devastating. However, researchers have good news for spinal cord injury patients in West Virginia and elsewhere. Three-dimensional, or 3-D, implants may one day restore these patients’ motor functions and neural connections.

Neuroscientists and engineers have been working together to develop these implants, which are designed to guide brand-new nerve cells in growing across the area where a patient’s spinal cord is severed. So far, their research has shown great promise in severely injured rats. These implants can be quickly printed in 3-D and come in various shapes and sizes. This makes them easy to customize to fit a patient’s anatomy.

To use these implants, researchers can fill them with nervous system stem cells and then fit them into injured areas. In a way, they function as puzzle pieces. Then, new cells grow and and connect with one another as well as the host tissue in the spinal cord. This technology may bring hope to many spinal cord injury patients who yearn to have their physical functions restored.

Some spinal cord injury situations in West Virginia are the result of car accidents caused by careless drivers, or slip-and-fall accidents caused by negligent property owners, for example. Fortunately, in these situations, the victims have the right to file liability claims against the reportedly at-fault parties, seeking damages. If they are successful in their claims, they may receive damages that might help them to cover their ongoing health care treatments and other injury-related losses.