Spinal Cord injuries are among some of the most devastating injuries and can cause problems from immobility, to bowel and bladder disfunction. Despite all of this scientists haven't yet found a treatment or drug to fully repair spinal damage. However, over the past 20 years there have been significant advancements in treatment for spinal cord injury.
Here are the ten biggest breakthrough in spinal cord injury research so far:
1. A botox ingredient
In 2008, scientists discovered that treating spinally injured adults with Botulinum toxin — an active ingredient in Botox — helped improve the walking and upper limb function of many patients
2. Exercise and Spinal Cord Plasticity
In 2001, two Swiss scientists discovered that exercise or physiotherapy could help nerve fibres surrounding a spinal injury to sprout new interconnecting fibres, in a process called plasticity.
3. Sodium Channel Blockers
In the same year, a team of Canadian scientists discovered that a drug called Riluzole could help protect nerve cells after spinal cord injury. The discovery makes the drug a potential method of improving nerve recovery.
4. An antibiotic called Minocycline
Back in 2006, scientists discovered that a certain kind of antibiotic called Minicycline could help improve muscle movement for those paralysed by injury. Results from the latest trial are expected in 2018.
5. Therapeutic Hypothermia
In 2012, scientists discovered that cooling parts of the body by 4 degrees straight after injury led to an improvement in spinally injured patients' conditions.
6. Thought Control
In 2014, a man with a spinal cord injury found he could move his fingers and hand with his thoughts thanks to a "thought control" device. Interestingly, the gadget did not repair the spinal injury, just bypassed it.
7. Transplanting Nose Nerve Cells
In 2014, an academic paper was published describing how a spinally-injured patient showed some recovery of movement in his limbs after a transplantation of nerve cells from his nose.
8. Scar-Busting Chondroitinase
In 2015, researchers at King's College, London showed that scar-busting enzyme called Chondroitinase could dissolve scar tissue in animals. Whether Chondroitinase is capable of doing the same to human scar tissue is still unknown.
9. Cervical Spinal Cord Injury Treatment
In 2016, an American bio-tech company reported significant improvements in patients with cervical spinal cord injury following stem cell treatment. More results are awaited for this year.
10. Fat Derived Stem Cell Transplant
In Autumn 2016, scientists in South Korea discovered that stem cells grown from fat tissue and transplanted into patients with spinal cord injury resulted in significant improvements in muscle control
Even though none of these breakthrough have led to full spinal cord repair, they all demonstrate what a complex and fascinating part of the human body the spinal cord is.