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Recovering Movement In Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

| Source: allvoices.com

The University of California, Irvine, has just completed the very first study to show that human stem cells can bring back movement in spinal cord injury, advocating the possibility of treatment for a more vast populace of patients.

Past breakthroughs in stem cell studies concentrated on the vital or beginning stage of spinal cord injury, a time span of up to a couple of weeks after the onset of the trauma when medications can bring about some mobile recovery.

The study directed by Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings from the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, is vital due to the fact the therapy can bring back movement during the later chronic stage, the time which is after spinal cord injury where inflammation has sustained and recovery has reached a stability level. Currently there are no medications to help bring back functioning in these cases.

This study is available online at the peer-reviewed journal PloS ONE.

The team of Anderson-Cummings had transplanted human neural stem cells into mice after 30 days of spinal cord injury caused by hind-limb paralysis. The cells then had changed into neural tissue cells such as early neurons and had traveled to the spinal cord injury areas. After three months of the starting treatment, the mice had shown major and constant recovery of walking ability in two different tests for motor function when compared to control groups.

Dr. Anderson, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and anatomy and neurobiology UCI, stated that human neural stem cells are a novel therapeutic method that shows a lot of promise for spinal cord injury. The study adds on to the comprehensive work in the past which was published in the chronic stage of injury and gives more hope to persons who are paralyzed or have diminished motor function.

It is estimated that there are 1.3 million persons in the United States who have chronic spinal cord injury. This newest study gives added proof that human neural stem cells may be a reasonable treatment method for them.

This research is the newest in a series of collective studies administered since 2002 with StemCells Inc., located in Palto Alto, California, who are employed in the research, development and commercialization of stem cell therapeutics and tools for using in stem cell foundation research and drug discovery.

Dr. Stephen Huhn, vice president and head of the central nervous system program at StemCells Inc., states the sound clinical information that they have collected will allow them to progress into clinical trails which they plan to begin in 2011.

Chronic pain is a major problem for persons with spinal cord injury. After one year of injury pain is at 81%. Persons with spinal cord injury usually develop musculoskeletal pain and problems. Since many persons have chronic pain from spinal cord injuries and find conventional medicine is not working they turn to alternative treatments to help with the chronic pain from the spinal injury. Some of the most used alternative treatments are physical therapy, massage therapy, Chiropractic and herbal.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy will include exercise in order to strengthen muscles, aide in improving range of motion. They will also use treatments such as heat and cold. Exercises include tilting head back and forth and arm raises.


Chiropractic using hands on manipulations helps to bring back mobility to joints which have become restricted by the tissues. It alleviates pain in the muscles, bones, joints and connecting tissues like the cartilage and tendons. Tens units may also be used. The unit sends electrical stimulation through the skin to the nerve fibers which will alter the muscles like in numbness. It provides temporary relief of pain.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has been demonstrated to heighten range of motion, reduce pain in lower back areas along with reducing stiffness and fatigue. It has also aided with persons anxiety and depression. Some massages used are Carniosacrial which uses gentle pressure. Deep tissue massage is also used a lot.

By Debbie Nicholson

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