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Spinal Cord Injury: Know your Spine!

Spinal cord injuries are becoming very prevalent with nearly 10-15000 reported cases, each year in a developed country. These injuries are basically associated with the accidental trauma, damaging structural as well as functional integrity of the spine; leaving behind a crippled patient and his family along with their struggle to cope up with the catastrophe. Although, in order to be familiar with possible availability of treatment options, one has to be aware of the basic spinal cord anatomy; in this regard the current write up will help you to understand your spine.

The spinal cord is made up of millions of nerves that have been wrapped through a myelin sheath and are packed inside the secure covering of 31 butterfly shaped vertebrae. Anatomically the structure is being divided into four distinct regions depending upon their functional attributions. Exact location of the region of injury is the key to find diagnostic aid as well as effective treatment support. Accordingly the spinal cord regions are categorized as:

Cervical Spinal Cord

The top most portion of the spine has been named as the cervical spinal cord and is primarily responsible for connecting the central nervous system with rest of the organs of the body. The eight vertebrae section performs many crucial functions, such as housing the important messages from brain to rest of the body through important blood brain barrier, protecting the bundle of nerves, supporting and adding flexibility to the head, ensuring proper flow to the brain, etc. Number of vertebrae associated with the region is been identified as C1-C8.

Thoracic Spinal Cord

The section refers to the middle section of the vertebrae, numbered from T1-T12. It mainly supports the back side of the chest and is primarily structured for the stability. This part of the spinal cord plays an important role in holding the body in an upright position; and hence provides protection to the critical organs of the body. The said intricate structure of the spine; enclosing nerves, connecting tissues and other crucial segments is a primary source of pain.

Lumbar Spinal Cord

The lower region of the spinal cord, associated with its inward curve towards the abdomen is referred to as a lumbar spinal cord. It is comprised of five vertebrae that have been numbered from L1-L5. Being at the lower extremities, the segment of the spine is specifically used for strength as well as flexibility. It is generally connected with sacrum at the Lumbosacral joints (L5-S1), is used for considerable rotation allowing easy coordination between pelvis and hips, while walking or running.

Thus, by pinpointing  the exact location of the injury; one can help in accurate prognosis. Although, injuries can be of any type; the most common amongst them are:

Quadriplegia

Quadriplegia usually results as a result of injury to the cervical spine, causing paralysis of all the limbs and hence are identified to be the most severe. These kinds of injuries eliminate an ability to undergo any kind of movement, adding up complete dependency to the individual’s life.

Paraplegia

The type of injury is associated with thoracic spine, involving loss of movement as well as sensation from the lower half of the body; including legs, hips, etc.

Apparently injuries below the lumbar spinal cord can typically be associated with loss of sensation in lower half of the body.

Thus, at present steroidal drugs as well as other rehabilitative approach can only be extended as a treatment to the spinal cord injuries. Contrary to which, alternative medicine like stem cells therapy has been observed to have a better beneficial impact on treatment outcome. Worldwide clinical studies have confirmed the safety as well as clinical efficacy of the sem cells and hence can be thought as a viable alternative to conventional medicine.

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Applications of Stem Cells

Applications of Stem Cell

Treatment using stem cells based preparation, has been continued to be an extremely active area. Scientists believe that it is very important to explore different cell infusion pathways so as to attain maximum benefit from stem cells. From the studies so far, many vistas of adult stem cells based therapies could be identified, some of their applications can be:

Vascular Diseases

Stem cells are known to be the better long term prospects for many cardio-vascular diseases, which are known to be the leading cause of death among global developed populations. In the recent trials, the regeneration of stem cells in the cardiomyocytes has confirmed in the patients, opening doors to the successful treatments. Mesenchymal stem cells isolated from extra embryonic tissues, can be promising candidates due to their large number and easy adaptability in vascular environment to promote faster regeneration.

Neurological Diseases

Stem cells applications have as well shown very encouraging results in neurological diseases. Various studies and clinical trials have confirmed that adult stem cells isolated from various mature tissues, can form a protective environment for motor neuron; linking them up for easy restoration of neural functions. Besides, various other small scale trials have underpinned the fact that these mesenchymal stem cells, isolated from extra embryonic stem cells are pluripotent in nature with the good rate of differentiating them into neuronal origin.

Eye Problems

Currently many people are searching, whether stem cells have applications in eye disorder. Apparently, the degenerative eye conditions cannot be reversed; stem cells treatment for reversing the eye damage or stopping the progression can be indeed an appealing idea. Studies have confirmed their assured potency to differentiate into wide range of cells to repair the eyes. On the contrary, the repair of the cornea through stem cells based therapy is highly successful with many satisfied patients.

Metabolic Disorders

Stem cells have as well proved to be the most trusted options in treating metabolic disorders such as liver problems, diabetes, etc. for which so far no treatment is available that can alter the condition. Since these mesenchymal stem cells are immunomodulators, they have observed to be regulating patient’s immune system to beat the pressure of autoimmunity and immune rejections.

Orthopaedic Problems

Application of stem cells stimulated with patients own platelet rich plasma, has been widely acclaimed treatment in the orthopaedics. Medical fraternity as well showed the wide interest in implementing these treatment options as part of their routine investigations due to their effectiveness, low risk and ease of availability.

Thus, it is very important to increase the awareness regarding stem cells treatments. Many doctors argue that new treatments have to be urgently channelized as rapidly as possible for many devastating conditions.