Researchers Connect Spinal Cord Injury to Brain Damage

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New groundbreaking research shows that spinal cord injury can lead to brain damage even without a traumatic brain injury. This study casts new light on assumptions made in the insurance industry that head injuries must be disclosed in order for brain damage treatments to be covered.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) have published two articles in the Journal of Neuroscience and Cell Cycle highlighting links between spinal cord injury and brain damage. In particular, their studies connected spinal injury to the loss of nerve cells and an increase in cognitive problems and depression.

Previous studies on animals had connected traumatic brain injury to progressive brain tissue damage based on inflammation and swelling in the brain. But no previous study had recorded the same problems in spinal cord injuries.

Anesthesiology professor and neurobiologist Alan Faden, MD, led the study, which showed that isolated spinal cord injuries caused the brain to become inflamed. He said:

“Our studies [are] the first to show that isolated SCI can cause progressive loss of brain cells in key brain regions. The brain degeneration was demonstrated in different experimental models and animals. We also have identified certain molecular mechanisms responsible for these pathological changes and shown that certain drugs can prevent these injuries, including inflammation, brain cell loss, cognitive decline and depressive-like behaviors after injury.”

This is good news for the victims of spinal cord injury. Researcher E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, said:

“The link between spinal trauma and brain function is now more clear, and we believe that further research in this area will offer the hope of new ways to treat this devastating trauma, and perhaps even reverse its effects on the brain.”

In the future, doctors may be able to treat back injuries with anti-inflammatory medicines and other treatments that have been known to slow or prevent progressive brain damage in TBI patients. That way patients with spinal cord injuries can avoid or mitigate the complicated and life-changing effects faced by many with traumatic brain injuries.

David Christensen is a brain injury expert at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team can help victims of brain and spinal cord injuries as a result of auto accidents to get relief under the No-Fault Insurance Act, and get their medical treatments covered. If you or someone you know has suffered a serious accident resulting in brain or spine injuries, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.