Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

Treatment for spinal cord injury falls into two main categories: acute treatment, given immediately after injury and in the days after, and ongoing treatment, which is generally focused on helping the injured person regain as much mobility and function as possible. Since spinal cord tissue and nerve fibers don’t regenerate, most treatment and technologies used as treatment for spinal cord injury aim at providing more independence and mobility for the injured person.

Drug Treatment

During the acute treatment stage, people with spinal cord injuries may be given methylprednisolone, a medication which seems to reduce damage to nerve cells and decrease inflammation at the injury site. Beyond that, people with injuries to the spinal cord may take medications to manage the effects of the injury, including medications for pain, muscle spasticity, bladder and bowel control and sexual functioning. There are no drugs that can cure a spinal cord injury, but some may improve the response of the remaining nerve cells. Corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be indicated immediately after the spinal cord injury to relieve pressure on the spinal cord, remove bone fragments or immobilize the person to avoid further injury to the spine and nerve cells. If the injury is caused by a disease or condition that compresses the spine, surgery may be indicated to reduce growths that press against the cord, or to remove fluid or tissue that is compressing the spinal cord. Surgeons may also fuse vertebrae or place spinal braces to help with positioning.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

A spinal cord injury requires a total readjustment of lifestyle. Many people with spinal cord injuries can no longer physically perform basic activities of daily living, including dressing, feeding themselves or using the toilet. Others may only have to make minor adjustments to their usual way of doing things. Occupational therapists and rehabilitation therapists generally work with those adjusting to life with spinal cord injuries to help them find alternate ways of doing things, and to recommend assistive devices that can allow them to live more independently.

Alternative Therapies

People have used numerous alternative therapies in an attempt to improve function or heal spinal cord injury. The most common include acupuncture, peripheral nerve rerouting, massage and chiropractic techniques and shark embryo cell transplants.

Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury

Stem cell therapy offers great promise for people with spinal cord injuries. A number of studies have shown that regenerative approaches using stem cells and growth factors can stimulate regeneration of nerve tissue that comprises the spinal cord. Several case studies using different types of stem cells have shown significant improvement in function when using stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries.