Newswise — According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), as many as 250,000 people are living in the United States with spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Every year, about 11,000 Americans are hospitalized for a SCI. In lieu of these startling statistics, the AANS applauds the comprehensive report that was issued April 5 by the Institute of Medicine: Spinal Cord Injury: Progress, Promise, and Priorities. The report recognizes both the progress that has been made in treating SCIs, as well as the great need for additional research.
“While recent advances in emergency care and Rehabilitation allow many SCI patients to survive, methods for reducing the extent of injury and for restoring function are still limited,” stated Robert A. Ratcheson, AANS president, “and that is one reason why expanded research efforts are so important.”
Most SCIs are caused by trauma to the vertebral column, thereby affecting the spinal cord’s ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the body’s systems that control sensory, Motor and autonomic function below the level of injury. Motor vehicles are the leading cause of SCI in the United States for people age 65 and younger, while falls are the leading cause of SCI for people 65 and older. Sports and recreation-related SCI injuries primarily affect people under age 29. Prevention of SCIs is an important component to addressing this major public health concern.
Medically managing the many health complications of SCI is challenging, and impacts survival and quality-of-life issues. For people who are living with SCIs, prevention of complications such as pain, Spasticity, pressure sores and Depression are of paramount importance.
Recent research has shown that nerve cells and their axons – the threadlike fibers that conduct electrical impulses to other cells – can be regenerated, a finding that has created new possibilities for treating SCIs. “Research must focus on prevention, Regeneration and repair of damaged cells, and improving the quality of life for SCI patients,” said Dr. Ratcheson.
“The Institute of Medicine report is a crucial first step in recognizing SCI as a major public health crisis and offers viable solutions for tackling this crisis on many levels,” concluded Dr. Ratcheson.
Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with more than 6,800 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. All active members of the AANS are certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Neurosurgery) of Canada, or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, AC. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system, including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain, and Peripheral nerves.
Source: American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)