According to the Centers for Disease Control, 12 000 to 20 000 people across the country suffer from spinal cord injuries due to falls and traffic accidents each year. In many communities, including South Miami, car accidents are a leading cause of spinal cord injuries. For patients, this type of injury can result in a lifetime of paralysis or limited motion. In many cases, patients cannot return to their jobs or regular lives and often incur very high medical costs due to their injury. Costs for a patient can range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars over a lifetime.
New research may offer some hope to those who have suffered a spinal cord injury in South Miami or another Florida community. Studies currently taking place at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School suggest that physical therapy and stem cell therapy combined may have a beneficial effect in helping patients regain neurological function after a spinal cord injury.
Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School evaluated 70 patients who had spinal cord injuries – including thoracic and cervical spinal cord injuries. The patients were divided into two groups: one group received physical therapy while the other received a combination of physical therapy and stem cell treatment from their own bone marrow. After 18 months, about half of the group receiving physical therapy and stem cell treatments showed signs of improvement. Some of the patients were able to walk and some were able to repair bowel and bladder function to the point that they no longer needed catheters.
Another study, based in Sweden, suggests that hand surgery can improve quality of life for patients with severe cervical spinal cord injuries. Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have been reviewing patient outcomes from Sahlgrenska University, where hand surgery has been offered to patients with spinal cord injuries since the 1970s. The surgery improves gripping ability and thus quality of life for spinal cord injury patients, but only 40% of patients in Sweden who could get this surgery get the operation. Only one out of ten cervical spine injury patients in the US get this type of surgery, even though it can allow spinal cord injury patients to live more independently. Part of the issue may be that few hospitals in the world offer the surgery as often as the Sahlgrenska University. In addition, many patients and even doctors may not realize the benefits of the surgery.
Patients who have sustained a serious spinal cord injury need to consider all their options when it comes to healing. This means consulting with multiple doctors, in many cases, and staying aware of the research and studies which may suggest new treatment options. In addition to taking care of the physical healing, however, it is important that patients protect their legal rights and their finances. Getting hand surgery or a new type of treatment can be very expensive. If a spinal cord injury was caused by someone’s recklessness or carelessness, however, you do have legal options. You may be able to pursue compensation that can help you pay for quality medical care that can help you heal more fully. To get more details, contact a personal injury attorney in South Miami or your community.