Spinal cord injuries can change a person’s life forever. While some may be able to continue a relatively normal life with the help of physical therapy, others are not always so lucky. Any type of injury to the spinal cord, whether minor or severe, can lead to permanent damage. Since the spinal cord is part of the central nervous system, any slight injury can cause the brain to lose its ability to communicate with it.
With no cure for spinal cord injuries (SCIs) currently available, some people can completely lose their ability to walk on their own and require the use of a wheelchair or even around-the-clock care due to full or partial paralysis. However, a new study conducted in London shows promise.
Researchers tested a new drug called TTK21 which was administered to mice once a week following a chronic spinal cord injury. They found that with regular use, TTK21 actually promoted sensory and motor neuron regrowth within just 10 weeks. The neuronal regrowth allowed the brain to re-communicate with the spinal cord, thus causing the patients to regain some mobility.
Along with an environment that encouraged mobility, some mice were noticed to have substantial improvements, like the regrowth of axons, also known as nerve fibers, in the spinal cord. One of the study’s lead authors mentions that they are now working on combining biomaterials with the use of this drug in order to drastically improve mobility in real patients with spinal cord injuries.
What is a spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injuries affect strength, sensations, and other bodily functions. When there is a traumatic injury to the back, it can damage a person’s spinal cord, which acts as part of the central nervous system along with the brain. The central nervous system works to carry messages from the brain to the spinal cord, which tells the body how to move and react. After an injury to the spinal cord, this messaging system gets damaged. It can cause:
- Movement loss
- Altered sensations
- Lack of bladder or bowel control
- Changes in sexual function
- Pain or stinging
- Difficulty breathing
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center dove deep into life expectancy rates for SCI patients, finding they are significantly lower than those without any type of spinal cord injury—and they have not improved at all for over 40 years. Where other conditions, like cancer, heart disease, and strokes have all seen an increase in life expectancy after years of research, spinal cord injuries have not.
The TTK21 drug is likely the first of its kind to offer a glimmer of hope to all those suffering. Even if it cannot cure complete paralysis, it seems to be on the track of at least giving those with spinal cord injuries a bit more mobility than they currently have.
Car accidents are mostly to blame for SCI
When it comes to sustaining a spinal cord injury, a recent study says that motor vehicle accidents are mostly at fault. Traveling at a high rate of speed usually leads to greater impact during a car crash and can cause a sudden and powerful blow to any part of the body, but especially the spine. However, that is not the only way these injuries can occur. Something as simple as a fall can cause some serious damage to the nerves or cord itself if the fall was from just the right height. Acts of violence, like gunshot wounds, as well as sports-related injuries, also cause spinal cord injuries.
Some people are at greater risk of SCI than others
Despite most spinal cord injuries happening as a result of a car accident, a certain demographic group still seems to be more prone to these types of injuries than others. John Hopkins Medicine states, “Average age at the time of injury has increased over the past few decades and is currently 42 years. Most people who suffer SCIs are male. Non-Hispanic whites are at higher risk for SCI than any other ethnic group.”
Spinal cord injuries create substantial financial burdens on Mississippi families
Dealing with a spinal cord injury is not easy, and it does not always get better during the aftermath, either. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center noted how the average hospital stay after sustaining one of these injuries is 11 days. While this number has decreased in the last few decades, it still requires a long—and quite expensive—stay at the hospital.
Depending on how serious the injury is, it could lead to expensive or even lifelong treatments. Rehabilitation, in-home medical assistance, wheelchairs, ramps, and breathing assistance all are incredibly expensive even with insurance. It is said that lifetime costs can range anywhere from $1.7 million to $5.1 million. The new TTK21 drug could help incredibly offset the costs of these costly treatments by possibly even eliminating them altogether. There currently is no other cure for the side effects of spinal cord injuries, so this drug is finally giving people hope.
If the cause of your spinal cord injury was not your fault, then it is your right to seek compensation for your pain, suffering, and financial loss. Your claim could be tricky to tackle alone if your spinal cord injury was caused due to the negligence of someone else. Make sure to talk to an experienced Mississippi spinal cord injury attorney to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Merkel & Cocke, P.A., provides skilled legal representation for all of our personal injury clients. We will investigate the circumstances surrounding how your accident happened and find out who or what was responsible. If you have been suffering from a spinal cord injury due to no fault of your own, please call our office at 662-627-9641, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We operate offices in Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville and Oxford to better serve you.
Charles M. Merkel, III attended the University of Mississippi for his undergraduate and law degrees, graduating with honors from both. Upon graduation, he received the coveted position as a judicial law clerk for US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Jackson Division. Mr. Merkel joined Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 2002, where he works with clients who have sustained serious injuries because of negligence, medical malpractice and defective products. He has received many honors, included being cited by Super Lawyers, National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, and Best Lawyers in America. Learn more about Charles M. Merkel, III.