Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in a car accident. It is not only a highly emotional experience waiting and hearing the news as to whether you or your loved one is going to walk or function normally again, but it stays through the exhausting and expensive therapy that follows.
An SCI is a long process of physical therapy, retraining muscles, and adjusting habits just to transition back into some semblance of a normal life. Regardless of whether this is mere recovery or learning to live with paralysis, there is one guarantee, life will never be the same.
However, though spinal cord understanding and research is slow in developing, hope comes from the medical community periodically. We like to highlight these pieces of research because it makes us think of our clients, past and current, that are struggling with SCI, but are learning to cope and over come until a cure is found.
Spinal Cord Research
There is still a massive argument over the function and utilization of embryonic stem cells. Though the arguments against are largely philosophical, the scientific community is pretty united in the future of stem cells. Ask the vast majority of SCL victims of car accidents that struggle every day with paralysis or back pain and they will tell you, their hope for recovery outweighs their prior assumptions about the technology. Yet, for patients that are still on the fence, this new research uses only adult stem cells.
That’s why SCL victims may be hopeful for new research at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute. Dr. Ann Parr is a U of M neurosurgeon, professor, researcher, and part of a team focused on spinal cord injuries and stem cell research.
“It is a really exciting time right now in the field of spinal cord injury,” she said.
Her team is trying to develop a treatment that could someday help people like Jablonski.
Her lab is currently creating oligodendrocyte cells cells from mice in the lab. These are cells that insulate the nerves in the spinal cord and brain. After a spinal cord injury there are many nerves that are actually preserved and may have the ability to function again. However they’ve lost their insulation.
“[Without oligodendrocyte cells] they’re sort of like bare wires,” Parr elaborated. “If we could replace the oligodendrocytes in the injured spinal cord that they may actually allow these nerves to function again,” said Parr.
Her research begins with adult skin cells, which she converts to stem cells, then transforms them into the insulating oligodendrocyte cells. This method is better, because using a patient’s own cells reduces the risk of rejection that can come with using embryonic stem cells.
She said there are also many drugs in clinical trials that could minimize cell damage immediately after a spinal cord injury. Doctor Parr said there are promising drug therapies that could be available within a year or two to help treat those with new spinal cord injuries.
Though hopeful, she said, “It could be years before research like hers leads to an approved treatment for those already living with a spinal cord injury.”
According to the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Care, and Cure, spinal cord injury in a car accident is the most common way of suffering a spinal cord injury. When these serious life threatening injuries happen, cellular degeneration begins in about 24 to 36 hours and could result in more serious irreversible permanent damage.
Anterograde degeneration – The part of the axon that remains connected to the cell body may degenerate a short distance (e.g. a millimeter or less), but usually it survives at least in the short term.
Orthograde degeneration – The degeneration of a nerve fiber that has been separated from its nutritive center by injury or disease, characterized by segmentation of the myelin and resulting in atrophy and destruction of the axon.
The overall term for these types of degeneration is Wallerian Degeneration. When this happens, oligodendrocyte cells as described above, become extremely important. You see, SCI regeneration is extremely slow, in fact, some of the slowest in the body and this is because the nerves lack oligodendrocyte cells.
By being able to construct oligodendrocyte cells in the lab that the body won’t reject, the degeneration process can be stopped and reversed. This can potentially increase the likelihood of recovery tenfold.
Washington Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
SCI victims of an auto accident are seeing positive strides in treatments in the last decade related to stem cells. Even the mortality rate and degree of recovery has increased slightly and goes up every year. However, all treatments cost money and the medical bills can pile up throughout a lifetime into hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes millions). That’s why compensation is so important.
Phillips Law Firm is a full service law firm with a substantial track record of success Personal Injury Litigation. We take the time to fully assess the injured party’s case in order to assure that the victim receives the compensation they deserve. Call our Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free consultation.