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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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The Future of Stem Cells

The Future of Stem Cell

Bioengineering with biological scaffolds

Each and every day, thousands of surgeries are performed to repair or replace damaged tissues; due to diseases, injuries or trauma. However, with the conceptual applications of stem cells based therapies, it has been observed that these lost cells can be regenerated or repaired, without much hassles of surgeries and/or organ donations. Parallel to the advancements of stem cells based therapies; their applications in tissue engineering as biological scaffolds are attracting many scientists, who wish to mimic the nature as it is.

In the recent years, major breakthroughs have taken place in creating tissue engineered organs; such as skin, bladder, airway, etc. Although, amniotic membrane obtained from extra embryonic fetal tissues of the humans can act as a naturally derived biomaterial, possessing great biological, supportive and mechanical properties that are important for tissue engineering.

Although revolutionary, it is also to be noted that amniotic membrane have been used in the medicine for more than 100 years, with its first successful application reported in 1910, for management of severe skin burns and hard to heal wounds such as diabetic foot. Studies so far have confirmed exclusive properties of amniotic membranes such as anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-scarring, etc.

The above observations, could lead to the successful utilization of these frozen amniotic membranes, as biological dressings in wounds, ophthalmology and some of the common problems such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome; along with the infusion of stem cells to maximise the outcome. The auto as well as allo implantation of these amniotic membranes, along with the infusion of stem cells can definitely meet the expectations of scar less surface regeneration; which is required in case of burns, ulcers and ocular surface healing.

Thus, considering the appealing biocompatibility and bioactivity of amniotic membranes, their applications as a novel biocomposite material along with the use of mesenchymal stem cells can be a rocking combination to enhance guaranteed tissue regeneration with the customization possibilities. The use of this technology could be adopted in the field of cosmetics, ophthalmology and other common conditions listed above.

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Sleep and Arthritis

Sleep and Arthritis

Many of you, suffering from some or the other forms of arthritis, might have experienced sleepless nights many a times. In fact, multiple studies have published relevant relation between arthritis and reduced ability to get enough sleep.

A survey published in the reputed journal of SLEEP has rationalized the amount and quality of sleep in people, who were suffering from arthritis. As per their observations, people who had pain before heading towards the bed has no relevant connection with the sleep disturbances, however those who slept poorly had more pain, the next day! These results, thus clearly point out that disturbed sleep can be one of the reasons for arthritis associated pain.

It has been hypothesized that lack of sleep may trigger some inflammatory pathways that can aggravate arthritis induced pain in patients. Some of the researchers have also connected disturbed sleep with neurological indications, which can actually change the perceptions of pain.

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Osteoarthritis – Go Easy with Stem cells

Go Easy with Stem cells

A survey commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control, has revealed that an estimated 54% adults are declared to be suffering from osteoarthritis. It has been approximated to be 40% in men and 47% in women. This extensive number of people suffering from osteoarthritis remains the major issue of clinical concern in its treatment. In a chick, urban population as it gets fatter; joints have to bear an extra stress, which could develop symptoms of osteoarthritis at a very younger age. Almost two out of five sufferers are now below their 40’s, whereas the average predicted age of osteoarthritis is more than 58 years.

The disease is very tricky in onset due to its asymptomatic nature, however has reported to be intensified very quickly with an insufferable pain, as one of its most distressing feature. Read more