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Neuron research brings hope for spinal cord injury repair

A spinal cord injury can totally change a person's life anywhere, including in Louisiana. Victims of accidents can become wheelchair-bound or suffer paralysis as a result of their injuries. Sometimes they are unable to meet their own physical needs and must undergo years of costly medical procedures and rehabilitation therapy.

Currently, there are no cures for spinal cord injuries, but scientists at the University of Texas's Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas may be on the track of one possible solution. In a recent experiment, they created new neuron cells in the brains and spinal cords of both young and old mice. Most paralysis following a spinal cord injury is caused by irreversible loss of neurons. Theoretically, new neurons could repair at least some spinal damage.

The scientists created the new cells without using stem cell transplants, which could offer an entirely new research avenue. However, many more tests must be conducted and much more research done before any possible technique can be tried on humans.

Spinal cord injuries have been linked to growing financial strains on the health-care system. Emergency room charges to treat spinal cord injuries grew by $1.6 billion from 2007 to 2009. One 3-year study found that 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries were caused by falls, followed by motor-vehicle accidents at 35.5 percent.

Louisiana residents who suffer from spinal cord injuries today still face long-term medical expenses regardless of what the future may hold. These injuries create challenges to emotional, physical and financial health. If such an injury is the result of negligence or carelessness on the part of another individual, then the victim, or his or her family, may be able to get treatment covered through legal action. Consultation with a qualified legal professional who has experience with personal injury lawsuits is highly recommended.

Source: Science Daily, "New neurons generated in brains, spinal cords of living mammals," Feb. 25, 2014

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