Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are among the most life-altering of all types of injuries. The loss of sensation, motor ability and autonomic function can be devastating. While there have been major advances in the medical and surgical care for people with spinal cord injuries, including some therapies that can, if given immediately, prevent much of the damage related to an injury in the area of the spinal cord, there is, as yet, no commonly accepted effective treatment for the neurological defects that accompany serious trauma to the spinal cord. Recently, however, scientists and medical researchers have been working toward a number of very attractive stem cell therapies that can help replace damaged neuronal and glial cells, restore neuronal circuitry, bridge lesions and promote healing and regeneration of neural tissue in the spinal cord and the nervous system.

Why Stem Cells?

By definition, stem cells continuously reproduce in two ways: they divide to self-renew and to generate daughter cells that will differentiate themselves – that is, some of the daughter cells are capable of specializing into specific types of cells needed by the body. This capability makes them a prime candidate for therapies aimed at repairing, replacing and regenerating damaged or destroyed tissue. Indeed, a number of experimental therapies are already in use, and stem cell transplants have produced regeneration and partial recovery in a number of patients with different types of spinal cord injuries. These therapies include those using embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Some of the best successes with stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries use a mixture of multipotent cells – another name for adult stem cells – progenitor cells and more differentiated types of cells. These cells are treated in the laboratory with human growth factors, but there are many other experimental stem cell therapies being developed for use with different types of spinal cord injuries.

Avenues of Research for Spinal Cord Stem Cell Therapy

Among the most exciting developments in stem cell biology was the discovery in 2006 that scientists could induce fully differentiated cells to revert to the pluripotent state – the state of embryonic stem cells that are completely undifferentiated and thus have the capacity to become anything. This research opens the door to future treatments where doctors may be able to take skin cells from a spinal cord injury patient, reprogram them and inject them at the site of the injury to help kick-start healing and regeneration of injured spinal cord and neural tissues.

If you are a possible stem cell patient, learn more to get a stem cell cure. Many terrific options exist for better health.

If you're a medical doctor and would like to learn and incorporate various stem cell treatments into your medical practice, please continue to learn more to get the proper stem cell medical training as many advancements are now being made weekly.