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Study reveals misconception in spinal injury theory

New York victims of serious spinal cord injuries may be interested to hear about a potentially game-changing study published in April 2016. Researchers believe they have proven that the scars associated with spinal cord injuries could actually promote nerve growth. For the more than 12,000 U.S. residents who sustain such injuries each year, these conclusions may result in improved treatments.

Prior to this study, many medical theories held that when special cells, known as astrocytes, build scar tissue at spinal cord injury sites, the scars get in the way of subsequent nerve regrowth. Astrocytes are assistive cells that are more than five times as common as the neurons that make up nerves, and they can move to injury sites to form scars with the help of immune system cells.

The researchers made their discovery by using test animals to determine how nerve regrowth progressed when they eliminated local scar tissue. To their surprise, they found that instead of clearing the path for cells to grow, the lack of scar tissue actually resulted in less growth. They eventually determined that the chemical compounds the astrocytes and immune cells released to grow scars also prompted the expansion of the nervous tissue. Reports say this discovery may promise some hope for medical techniques aimed at repairing spinal cord function and nervous system connectivity in injured individuals.

Medical researchers are constantly discovering new things about the way humans are impacted by a serious injury such as one to the spinal cord. New cures and treatments take time to develop test and market, however, and in the interim, those who sustain such injuries may be stuck with increased living costs, high medical bills and intense therapy regimens. Victims who have been injured as the result of another's negligence might find it useful to meet with an attorney to learn what recourse might be available.

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