Spinal cord injuries are prevalent across the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that most of them are caused by motor vehicle accidents. However, injuries sustained while playing sports, slip and falls and as a result of violence cause a significant number as well. Any time that there is any damage, it is serious, as the spinal cord provides the vital function of protecting the brain's connection with the respiratory, musculoskeletal, urinary and gastrointestinal systems.
According to the CDC, victims of spinal cord injury also suffer a significant financial setback. The average annual cost of treatment for a spinal cord injury can be as high as $30,000. If the injury is severe, it can cost up to $3 million in treatments over a lifetime. It is fortunate that researchers at Ohio State University have developed a new drug to treat such injuries.
New drug shows promise
Researchers at the university developed an experimental drug known as LM11A-31. The drug operates by preventing the release of a protein that the body releases after a spinal cord injury. This protein destroys oligodendrocytes, which are the nerve cells which protect and surround the axions-the nerve cells that transmit motor impulses from the brain to the body.
The researchers tested the new drug on mice with spinal cord injuries. Three different dosages of the drug were given to mice within four hours after they were injured. The mice continued to receive the drug for 42 days after the initial injury. After the treatment, the mice that had received the highest dosage of the drug were able to walk and were more coordinated in the movement of their limbs.
Additionally, researchers found that the drug was able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is the partition that protects the brain from foreign substances. This is the key component that made it effective in preventing the oligodendrocytes from dying once the injury was sustained.
Further research is required to determine whether the drug is more effective than conventional therapy if it is administered weeks or months following a spinal cord injury, rather than four hours.
A personal injury attorney can help
As conventional therapy for spinal cord injuries is not as effective if administered over 24 hours after injury, hopefully the new drug will prove effective. If someone else's negligence caused you to sustain a spinal cord injury, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. As treatment will be expensive and probably life-long, an attorney can help by working to recover compensation to help defray the costs.