Unlike a fractured bone, a severed nerve fiber cannot regenerate and become whole again — or so medical specialists have long thought. Anyone who has sustained a serious spinal cord injury (SCI) can expect to live with this impairment for the rest of their life. However, recent clinical trials suggest that new SCI therapies may be able to repair damaged nerves, restore function and reverse paralysis.
Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School recently published the results of a trial that used stem cells and physical therapy to treat patients with cervical and thoracic SCIs:
- Half received physical therapy.
- Half received physical therapy as well as injections of stem cells that were isolated from their own bone marrow. Scientists have been attempting to harness the ability of stem cells to differentiate and reproduce to repair damaged components in the body, such as nerve fibers.
- The group that received the combination therapy showed improvements in sensory function and muscle strength and control. At the end of the 18-month trial, half of this group was able to walk with some assistance. This was an extremely positive outcome, especially since the stem cell therapy appears to have no adverse side effects.
While this is excellent news, these are preliminary findings and there is a long way to go before an effective treatment is widely available for the 250,000 people who are coping with an SCI. The majority of these injuries are caused by auto accidents and the lifetime expenses for medical care, rehabilitation and lost wages are high. At Bell & Pollock, P.C., we fight hard to ensure that our clients with spinal cord injuries receive compensation that realistically accounts for their long-term needs. Until that regenerative SCI therapy is on the market, that is your best option.