Does spinal cord injury treatment even exist?
As of right now, there is no treatment for spinal cord injury. However, there are treatments for many of its side effects and it’s definitely possible to recover movement, even after a complete spinal cord injury.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Options
Glial scarring and cystic cavitation are major barriers to developing an effective spinal cord injury treatment. They block neural pathways and prevent axon regrowth.
Although spinal cord injury treatment may not currently exist, researchers are working hard to develop one. Check out these promising potential treatments!
Before SCI patients can try any of these potential treatments, stabilization of the spinal cord is crucial.
Stabilization techniques may involve:
- Surgery: Performing surgery might be necessary to help realign the spine and prevent further compression of the spinal cord.
- Braces: You might have to wear a brace or halo traction due to misalignment of your spine. It will help ensure that you don’t worsen your condition and keep your posture straight.
- Medication: Steroids like Methylprednisolone can help reduce swelling in the spinal cord. Too much swelling can block blood flow, which causes spinal shock.
Following an SCI, your spinal cord is extremely vulnerable. The idea behind these stabilization techniques is to prevent your injury from worsening.
2. Electrical Stimulation
The most promising form of electrical stimulation for spinal cord injury treatment is epidural stimulation.
Essentially, it’s when a surgeon implants an electrical stimulator into the lumbar region of your spine that sends electric currents down your spinal cord, below the site of injury.
The theory behind this is that the electrical currents mimic brain signals and will excite the neurons below your injury to create a new connection to the brain.
Although the mechanisms have yet to be understood, spinal cord injury patients have been able to move paralyzed limbs as a result of epidural stimulation.
Additionally, the enforcement of an intensive physical training regimen is necessary to successfully regain motor function. Without lots of repetition, your body can’t develop muscle memory.
3. Stem Cell Therapy
You’ve probably heard about stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury recovery and how it’s curing all sorts of different conditions.
However, stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury treatment is still in its clinical stages of development.
Stem cells are useful because they can:
- Divide infinitely
- Become various cell types depending on their environment
This makes them ideal for regenerating spinal cord tissues.
Currently, researchers are trying to figure out how to reduce glial scarring or cavitation so that stem cells can promote neural regeneration.
Research suggests that acupuncture may have a beneficial effect on neural restoration following spinal cord injury.
Acupuncture is one of those things that people either swear by or think is a complete gimmick. You’re free to decide for yourself.
It’s a traditional Chinese practice that involves placing hair-like needles into specific acupoints for therapeutic relief.
In Western countries, acupuncture has been adopted as a technique for pain relief, but in the East, it has been used for all sorts of neurological problems.
Ideally, acupuncture should result in:
- oxidative stress reduction
- inflammation inhibition
- an increase in regenerative stem cell production
In fact, electroacupuncture isn’t that much different from epidural stimulation. They both involve stimulating the body with electricity.
However, it’s important to note that clinical research on acupuncture has some weaknesses in terms of methodology, such as a lack of standardization and the use of small subject groups.
5. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen plays a huge role in cell survival.
Following a spinal cord injury, the amount of oxygen-rich blood in the spinal cord decreases. Oxygen is what converts nutrients into energy and without, the spinal cord cannot function properly.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is when pressurized oxygen is administered into your system. The ideology behind this is that it will prevent cell deaths due to lack of oxygen during secondary spinal cord injury.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy should help:
- recovery of motor function
- improve spinal cord histology
- lessen the effects of secondary injury such as cell deaths, inflammation, and oxidative stress
Oxygen therapy has proved to provide neuroprotective outcomes for those with and without spinal cord injury.
Although promising as a spinal cord injury treatment, only a few clinical trials have been performed on the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen treatment and outcomes must be researched on a larger scale.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment: A Summary
A spinal cord injury treatment is still in the works, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to get better.
All five of these potential treatments have yielded positive results and are still being fine-tuned and tested on a larger scale.
Spinal cord injury recovery requires a lot of physical and mental strength. Not only do you have to commit to physical therapy, but you also have to eat a healthy diet and be mentally resilient.
Health is holistic and the better you take care of your overall wellbeing, the better equipped you are for recovery.