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Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cell Therapy

Spinal column of the body which is made of hard bones protects the soft tissues of the spinal cord. There still may be breaking or dislocation of the in a variety of ways leading to traumatic injury to the spinal cord. These injuries can affect any segment of the spinal cord, the severity of injury to which in addition determines the damage. A spinal cord injury can have significant physiological results as the spinal cord acts as the main information pathway between the brain and the rest of the body.

Any kind of physical trauma that results in crushing and compressing of the vertebrae in the neck can cause irreversible damage to the cord. Extensive trauma to the spinal cord can result in paralysis: quadriplegia (body including the arms and legs) or paraplegia, (lower trunk and lower extremities). Other kinds of injuries which directly penetrate the spinal cord, can either completely or partially sever the spinal cord; creating life-long disabilities. Most of the spinal cord injuries cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which sometimes lead to damage of the axon (extensions of nerve cells). While few injuries allow almost complete recovery, most result in complete paralysis.

Because of the nature of the spinal cord and importance of its functions to the body, a serious spinal cord injury usually a lifetime confined to a wheelchair and an ongoing struggle to survive secondary complications such as breathing problems or blood clots, or sometimes even death.

With recent advancement in science and improved emergency care for patients with spinal cord injuries, the damage is minimized. In addition, aggressive treatment and rehabilitation helps the patient limit damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities. The usual protocol for a spinal injury patient is: administration of a steroid drug, to reduce the damage to nerve cells and decreases inflammation near the injury site by suppressing activities of immune cells. Followed by realignment of the spine using a rigid brace which is done as soon as possible to stabilize the spine and prevent additional damage. Then, the patient is given a complete neurological examination to diagnose the severity of the injury.

What can stem cells do for spinal cord injuries?

The potential for treating spinal cord injuries lies in Stem cell therapy. Researchers are holding trails to find out the best way stem cells can be utilized for spinal cord repair:
  • Replacement of the nerve cells that have died as a result of the injury can be done with stem cells;
  • New supporting cells to re-form the insulating nerve sheath (myelin) and stimulate re-growth of damaged nerves can be done with stem cells;
  • Stem cells may provide protection to the spinal cord when injected into the spinal cord shortly after injury.
Studies have shown that cells in the lining of the nasal cavity help regenerate spinal injuries when transplanted into the spinal cords. Researchers would want to focus at patients with specific type of spinal cord injury which occurs most commonly in motorcycle accidents and result in paralysis of the arm. The patients are to be treated within 14 days of a spinal cord injury in addition with short term immune suppression therapy to aid the prevention of rejection of the cells.

It has also been studied that in spinal cord injury patients if the stem cells within the spinal cord are artificially persuaded to differentiate into more healing cells it can result in a novel therapy which would be a non-surgical treatment for debilitating spinal-cord injuries.

It has been proven that embryonic stem cells can differentiate into all the specialized tissues of the body and adult stem cells act as a repair system.

It has also been found that neural stem cell population, when injected proliferates upon spinal cord injury, migrates toward the injury site and differentiates over several months.

Ependymal cells are the cells which line the ventricles of the brain; they exhibit the ability to turn into several different cell types upon injury. The researchers are hoping to regulate the behavior of this stem cell population to repair damaged nerve cells. These cells upon injury have shown to proliferate and migrate to the injured area. There they produce a mass of scar-forming cells, plus fewer cells called oligodendrocytes. The oligodendrocytes restore the myelin, or coating, on nerve cells.

Trials to genetically manipulate ependymal cells to produce more myelin and less scar tissue after a spinal cord injury are underway. They have shown potential success in potentially avoiding or reversing many of the debilitating effects of this type of injury, the researchers said.

Doctors and patients are deriving hope from success in advancement in stem cell therapy for this injury that eventually spinal cord injuries will be repairable. There are new surgical techniques and exciting developments in spinal nerve regeneration and the future for spinal cord injury survivors looks bright.


Spinal Cord Injury Package

Inclusions

  • Airport Pick-up and Drop
  • Hospital Stay in a Private Room as indicated above. One attendant can stay with the patient.
  • Nursing & Diet charges.
  • Routine lab tests
  • Admitting Consultant's visit charges
  • Surgeon’s Fees and OT Charges

Exclusions

  • Hospital stay after the said period.
  • Visit charges after the said period.
  • Cross consultations, if any.
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