According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 200,000 people are currently living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) in the United States. Each year, an additional 12,000 to 20,000 people are estimated to suffer an SCI. The estimated lifetime cost of a spinal cord injury is anywhere from $500,000 to $3million, depending on the severity of the injury.
A traumatic injury to a person’s spinal cord can result in permanent neurologic impairments in any body system affected by the damaged nerves, as well as psychological side effects. Fortunately, research recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience indicates that a new medication may help patients regain some bodily functions lost to SCI.
Researchers at Ohio State University examined the effect of an experimental drug, called LM11A-31, on lab mice with spinal cord injuries. The drug works by blocking the release of a protein after SCI that destroys the nerve cells that surround and protect axons, the structures that help transmit motor impulses from the brain to the rest of the body. What makes LM11A-31 particularly promising is its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, the natural mechanism that separates brain extracellular fluid from circulating blood. The blood-brain barrier acts to protect the brain from blood-borne contaminants, but it also hinders the efficacy of drugs meant to treat SCI.
According to the researchers leading the study, the drug helped mice regain some normal function after their initial injuries. The mice received the drug four hours after their initial injuries in the initial study. Future studies are expected to determine whether the drug is effective if administered weeks or months after the injury.
More research is needed to determine whether the drug would be as effective for human patients, but the authors of the study hope that the drug could be used in conjunction with current therapies to improve and restore some function.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or any other catastrophic injury due to the negligence of another person, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about how a personal injury lawyer can help you, contact an attorney today.