Spinal Injury Increases Heart Attack Stroke Risk

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A spinal injury could increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, substantially for patients. That information comes from a new study that was conducted by Canadian researchers.

According to the research, patients who have a spinal cord injury are much more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. These persons have an up to 3 times higher risk of suffering cardiac disease, and a four -times higher risk of suffering a stroke. The results of the study were published recently in the journal Neurology.

According to the researchers, the heightened risk among these patients brings their risk of cardiovascular disease on par with patients who already suffer from other possible risk factors, like smoking, diabetes and obesity. The researchers found that the heightened risk of cardiovascular disease among persons of spinal cord injury was very similar to the amplified risk among persons who smoke heavily, are obese or suffer from diabetes.

The data came from an analysis 60,000 people, who participated in the 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey. Out of these, the researchers identified 355 persons who had suffered spinal injury and also suffered a stroke. They also found 356 people who had suffered a spinal cord injury and also reported cardiovascular disease. The researchers believe that having a spinal cord injury can increase the risk factors for cardiovascular disease that include lack of exercise, hypertension and chronic inflammation.

Past research has also found an association between spinal injury and cardiovascular disease. For instance, a report by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center that was released recently found that high blood pressure or hypertension and heart disease are the third-leading cause of mortality among persons who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Treadmill Training Improves Recovery after Spinal Injury

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A study that was conducted in mice recently found that mice that have suffered a spinal cord injury and suffered from a paralysis showed significant signs of improvement, when they were put through treadmill training. However, the researchers also found that inflammation needed to be contained for the treadmill training to be beneficial.

The mice were administered the treadmill training just a few days after they suffered the injury. Those mice that received the treadmill training during a period when they suffered from severe inflammation saw no significant benefits, while those mice that were administered the treadmill training when the inflammation was minimal, showed significant recovery. These mice were able to use their hind legs to walk around within a few days after receiving the treadmill therapy, and were also able to retain the benefits of the therapy for up to 42 days.

According to the researchers, this study proves very conclusively that spinal inflammation needs to be controlled for the training to be effective.

The study also confirm that spinal cord injuries can contribute to impairments, even several segments away from the site of the trauma. The researchers specifically focused on the signs of inflammation in the lumbar region of the spine, at least 10 segments below the injury.

The good news is that stronger drugs to help reduce this inflammation may be available soon. The inflammation in spinal injury patients is believed to be caused by an enzyme called MMP-9, and previous studies have also linked this enzyme to cancer. Experimental drugs to inhibit this enzyme are already in various stages of research.

Tooth Pulp Could Help in Spinal Cord Injury Treatment

Friday, December 02, 2011

A group of researchers have made progress in the treatment of spinal cord injuries using stem cells from tooth pulp. The researchers from Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan extracted stem cells from dental pulp, and injected these cells into rats with spinal cord injuries. They found surprising benefits with the procedure.

Spinal cord injuries are most catastrophic and life altering of all injuries, partly because there is no complete cure and no proven treatment for the repair of damaged cells. However, researchers at Nagoya University have experimented with stem cells from tooth pulp. They found that when these cells were injected into rats with spinal cord injury, they helped in the regeneration of damaged cells in 3 ways. They acted to stop the death of nerve cells and support cells, promoted regeneration of damaged nerves, and also helped replace the lost support cells by generating new support cells. Within 5 weeks, the rats with spinal cord injuries were able to coordinate their joint movements, and were able to walk without support.   

The researchers believe that some of the regenerative properties of tooth pulp stem cells have not been found in any other kind of stem cells. According to the researchers, to the best of their knowledge, these regenerative capabilities are exclusive to tooth pulp-derived stem cells, and have not been exhibited by any other stem cells. They therefore believe that dental pulp-derived stem cells may provide an excellent resource for treatment of persons with spinal cord injury. 

The experiments were conducted on lab rats, and a clinical trial on humans is still a long way off. However, there is reason for Los Angeles spinal cord injury lawyers to hope that a regenerative treatment for damaged spinal cord cells may emerge out of this research.

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