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Turning Tragedy Into Hope for Others With Spinal Cord Injury
Date:1/24/2013

considered a backwater for research, the prospects are far better today. It used to be thought you cannot repair the spinal cord."

Howley noted that as people with spinal cord injuries age, their paralysis is compounded by potentially life-threatening issues associated with immobility, including upper respiratory infection, diabetes and reduced bone density. Those issues add to the financial and emotional burden these people face, she explained.

She predicted that there will soon be incremental cures for problems associated with the initial injury to the spine, such as restoring bladder function or finding a way to help some people use shoulder and chest muscles to get out of a wheelchair.

Howley said there's also a lot of work being done in spinal cord regeneration, with new tailor-made, personalized drugs on the horizon.

"There is an enormous amount to be encouraged by," Howley said. "And it's so much better now than 20 years ago when patients were told, 'Get used to it.'"

More information

Learn more about spinal cord injury from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Alan Brown, director of public impact, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation; Susan Howley, executive vice president for research, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Short Hills, N.J.


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