Scientists Discover helpful cells in Spinal Cord Injury

Apr 21, 2011
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Spinal cord injuries have resulted in life-changing and permanent injuries for over a million Americans.  According to data released recently by Ohio State University, there are over 1.3 million people in the United States who are living with a spinal cord injury.

Data from the epidemiologists at the Mayo Clinic suggests that the most common single cause (40%) of spinal cord injuries is motor vehicle accidents, with ‘alcohol use’ responsible for 1 in every 4 injury- causing motor vehicle accidents. Other common causes of spinal cord injury include:

  • Falls (25%)
  • Criminal violence (15%): usually the result of gunshot or knife wounds, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • And Sports and recreation injuries (8%)

Less common causes of spinal cord injury are diseases such as cancer and arthritis which can cause inflammation of the spinal cord and result in a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis (paraplegia and quadriplegia). Additionally, common complications of the spinal cord injury can include bladder and bowel dysfunction and chronic pain.

News on Treatment

During the early hours of the spinal cord injury “macrophages”, a type of white blood cell, are well- known to cause inflammation in the area. Inflammation can make the damage to the injured tissue worse, worsening the overall condition of the person who was injured. Previous research as sought to identify the source of the macrophage cells, with the intention of preventing their occurrence. However, new research at Ohio State University has suggested that macrophages can serve a positive role. While these cells can cause tissue damage, they can also increase the growth of connective tissue that helps nerve cells communicate with each other. This communication between nerve cells would be central to healing and to recovery of function at the site of injury. Researchers are now seeking ways to control the activity of the macrophages so that the dangerous levels of inflammation can be controlled, while still allowing healing and communication between cells to take place.

This study will potentially lead to a breakthrough in early stage treatment of spinal cord injuries.


Science Daily: March 20, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ — New Spinal Cord Discoveries Provide Hope

Author: Tanya