Spinal cord injury, or SCI, can have drastic and long-lasting impacts on your life. If you suffer from a condition like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis, your spinal cord may be weakened, and you are at higher risk of spinal cord injury from minor accidents.
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by a variety of damages to the spine, from slip and falls to motor vehicle accidents. Your spine can be damaged if it is pulled, pressed sideways, or compressed. This type of injury normally requires great force, as in industrial or car accidents, but can also result from chiropractic manipulation, hard falls, sports injuries, or even assault.
After you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, you can experience changes in strength, sensation, and changes in body parts below the injury. In extreme cases, nerve transmission is interrupted and partial or full paralysis may result. Healthcare professionals prescribe a regimen of therapies designed to prevent muscles from atrophying and to maintain your overall health.
A new study published in Journal of Neurophysiology found that electrical nerve stimulation can actually reverse SCI nerve damage. Science Daily reports:
“Muscles contract when the nerves controlling them are activated by electrical impulses from the brain. The brain loses control of the muscles after SCI because injured nerves do not excite easily or at all. In addition to the nerves in the spine, the peripheral nerves — nerves going to the limbs — downstream of the injury site are also compromised after SCI, worsening muscle atrophy and other health complications that follow the injury. This secondary nerve deterioration also limits the benefits of rehabilitation therapy and the possibility of spontaneous recovery.”
Researchers from the University of Sydney conducted a short-term study with a group of SCI patients. Each patient underwent electrical stimulation therapy on one side of their body 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks. The other side of the body was left untreated. At the end of six weeks, the nerves on the side that had undergone therapy were responding more like healthy nerves than damaged ones, while the untreated side remained the same.
While this therapy doesn’t repair a broken connection, it allows for both sides of the connection to remain in a healthy state, giving us hope that there will soon be a way to bridge the communication gap after a spinal cord injury and to allow the paralyzed to walk again.
While we look forward to this day, spinal cord injuries remain permanent and devastating. They can necessitate huge lifestyle changes for victims and their families, and require a lifetime of medical care and support. If you or someone you know has been paralyzed after an accident or as a result of negligence, please contact us or visit us in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville for a free consultation.