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Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. In India, approximately fifteen lac people live with spinal cord injury. Every year, ten thousand new cases add to this group of individuals. Majority of them (82%) are males in the age group of 16-30 years. However, this is only an estimate as there is no reliable national database. Some injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others will result in complete paralysis.

Treatment options

Spinal injury is a devastating event that occurs suddenly and whose consequences range from minimal symptomatic pain to a tragic quadriplegia (total paralysis of all four limbs). The key element in management is prevention of secondary neurological damage occurring during transportation, so whenever a family physician sees a patient with suspected spinal injury the first thing to be done is immobilize the spine which is done with cervical collar and belts for thoracic and lumbar spine.

Treatment:
1. At the site of accident / clinic of the family physician :mainly deals with immobilization & proper transportation to the hospital.
2. In the hospital: Resuscitaion, haemodynamic stabilization, basic corrective surgery (if required), physiotherapy.
3. Surgeries: basic aims of surgery are decompression of the neural elements, reduction of malalignment and restoration of spinal stability.
a. Anterior /posterior
b. Decompression / stabilization

Improved emergency care for people with spinal cord injuries and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation can minimize damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities. Rehabilitation programs combine physical therapies with skill-building activities and counseling to provide social and emotional support.

STEM CELL THERAPY FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY

Cell therapy, in particular, stem cell implantation has become a feasible therapy for spinal cord injury. Embryonic stem cells and fetal stem cells are the forefathers of the field of stem cell therapy. Extraction ,separation & processing of specific populations of adult stem cells in the laboratories has evolved such that they can be converted to various types of specialized cells (eg.neurons, liver cells, heart cells). Thus, adult stem cells will transcend ethical concerns, technical difficulties, and probably immunorejection.

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