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Research Continues to Seek Therapies for Spinal Cord Injuries

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Spinal cord injuries present one of the most damaging and life-changing consequences for California accident victims. A study conducted by researchers with the Spinal Cord Injury Centerat the University of Zurich and published in the December 2015 issue of a medical journal has offered new insights into the relationship between pain and the brain's ability to reorganize its motor control after a spine injury.

The university researchers investigated results from 24 people suffering from complete and incomplete paraplegia and tetraplegia. Their brain responses to stimulus were recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging and then compared to the responses of a control group of 31 healthy people. Injured study participants who had neuropathic pain experienced more shifts in brain activity than injured people who did not have pain. The data from the spinal cord injury group that experience pain resembled the responses of healthy people. The authors of the study concluded that neuropathic pain might "preserve functional cortical topography."

Their findings are far from definitive. A pain management specialist from the University of Sydney said that this study conflicted with the results of other studies. He explained that the brain changes associated with pain could be maladaptive. He added, however, that any correlation between pain and brain reorganization could be an important basis for developing therapies.

As researchers continue to look for therapeutic strategies, a person with a spinal cord injury will likely face years of therapy coupled with a reduced ability to earn income. A personal injury attorney might be able to help a victim who has been injured in an accident collect compensation to cover a permanent disability if another party's negligence was the cause.