Scientists have made progress in addressing a serious problem that often arises after a person has suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident.Atlanta personal injury lawyers are happy to report that researchers have tested an experimental treatment to restore breathing function interrupted after a spinal injury.
Breathing interruptions are some of the most serious complications after a person suffers a serious spinal cord injury.However, a group of neuroscientists have used a nerve graft treatment to address this issue.The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature.The tests were conducted on lab rats with successful results, and if the treatment can be transferred to humans with similar results, then doctors will be able to eliminate one of the more serious problems that can arise immediately after a spinal cord injury.
In order to understand how the treatment works, it’s important to understand how a spinal cord injury affects breathing.Breathing functions are controlled by nerve cells, which, in turn, control specialized motor cells in the spinal cord.When the vertebrae are damaged at or above the C3, C-4 and C5 segments, it affects breathing.A person in a situation like this may need to be immediately placed on a ventilator.
When the injury is below the C-5 level, the breathing interruptions are not as serious, but the person may still have difficulty breathing.The researchers used experimental techniques to treat the damage in the surgical area.They grafted a small piece of peripheral nerve from the victim’s limbs to the injury site.
A similar technique had been tried before, but complications arose in the form of molecules that began to form at the site of the injury, and restricted the re-growth of nerve cells.In order to combat this problem, the scientists used injections of an enzyme at both ends of the graft to allow the nerve cells to grow.They monitored the results, and found that over a period of just three months, the injured rats regained most of their breathing function.In fact, the rats with the spinal cord injuries regained between 80% and 100% of their breathing function.The researchers checked again at the six-month mark, and found that the function had been maintained over this period of time.
The researchers now want to test this technique on rats again, before they decide to test on human volunteers.
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most life altering injuries that a person can suffer, and lead to varying degrees of loss of movement and mobility.According to the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke, up to 12,000 Americans suffer a spinal cord injury every year.Approximately 250,000 people currently live with spinal cord injury in the country.
Most spinal cord injuries occur in serious auto accidents and motorcycle accidents.These accidents account for close to 38.5% of all spinal cord injuries.About a quarter of all spinal injuries are caused due to violence, gun shots and assault.The other main causes of spinal cord injuries are slip and fall accidents and sports-related injuries.