Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spinal Cord Injury Not Permanent

Ten to 15 years ago, if any one of the 6 million people estimated to be living with paralysis searched for treatment, they would likely find that hope was in short supply. More often than not, they were told their condition was permanent.

More PhotosResearch since then has shown that if the damage from spinal cord injuries is dealt with immediately, there may be hope that some patients can avoid total paralysis. But if treatment is delayed, the chances of success quickly dwindle.

Now, in an unprecedented new study from the University of California, San Diego, published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, researchers say they were able to regenerate nerve cells up to 15 months after a spinal cord injury.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Regeneration Can Be Achieved Even Years After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that regeneration of central nervous system axons can be achieved in rats even when treatment delayed is more than a year after the original spinal cord injury.

"The good news is that when axons have been cut due to spinal cord injury, they can be coaxed to regenerate if a combination of treatments is applied," said lead author Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and director of the Center for Neural Repair at UC San Diego, and neurologist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Health System. "The chronically injured axon is not dead."

While there are more than 10,000 new spinal cord injuries annually in the United States, nearly 250,000 patients are living in the chronic stages of injury. Yet nearly all previous spinal cord injury studies have attempted to stimulate regeneration when treatment is begun almost immediately after injury -- because, in part, scientists considered it very difficult to achieve regeneration at such long time points after injury. None had shown successful regeneration in the late, chronic stages.

Reporting in the October 29 issue of the Cell Press journal Neuron, the UC San Diego team demonstrated successful regeneration of adult spinal cord axons into, and then beyond, an injury site in the cervical spinal cord, the middle region of the neck. Treatment was begun at time periods ranging from six weeks to as long as 15 months after the original injury in rats.


First Lady Supports SCI Patients

NEW YORK — First lady Michelle Obama is offering thanks to the nation's veterans before taking in a World Series game.

Mrs. Obama toured a spinal cord injury unit at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx on Wednesday with the vice president's wife, Dr. Jill Biden. Hospital employees lined the hallways to see the first lady, who got several standing ovations.
Mrs. Obama said there were many ways for Americans to be more aware of veterans and say thank you. A few veterans called out "That's right!"

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden were accompanied by baseball officials on their way to Yankee Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. Major League Baseball is dedicating Game 1 to veterans and their families.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Super Dad for Special Girl

Washington Redskin to Retire Before Spinal Cord Injury

After learning he could become paralyzed if he continued to play football, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels has told people in the organization he will sit out the remainder of the season and plans to retire.

Samuels, who suffered a serious neck injury about two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers, reached his decisions after consulting with many specialists, several of whom warned him about the possibility of no longer being able to walk if he attempted to prolong his career, league sources said.

However, a source close to Samuels, 32, said he would not make a final determination on retirement until December or January -- and would withhold a public announcement until that time.

"I will continue to seek medical advice. I hope to see where I am physically over the next couple months," Samuels said in a statement released by the Redskins Friday. "At this time, I have not made a decision, but I love playing for the Redskins and hope to be back."


Monday, October 26, 2009

Glee Planning "Wheels" Show

The big hit Glee is having a wheelchair show featuring the kid in a wheelchair.  But are there not any kids who actually use a chair that could have been given the role?

Wheelchair Design Firm Wins

A disabled man who set up a company making wheelchairs because he was frustrated with the lack of choice available to users has won an award.

Mark Owen and his brother Jon established Nomad in Ciliau Aeron, near Lampeter, just six months ago.
The pair scooped a Design Management Europe (DME) prize, beating companies from France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium.

It is believed to be the first mobility company to scoop a DME award.
The brothers picked up the award at a ceremony in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, after winning the "first time design project" category for their wheelchairs.

Mark Owen, a wheelchair user, started Nomad with his brother in response to over a decade of "feeling frustrated by the choice of wheelchairs available to the market".
A nomad wheelchair
Nomad make bespoke, lightweight wheelchairs
The DME awards recognise companies for the management of the complete design process, from product design to branding, marketing and literature.

Company director Jon Owen said: "Even to be judged against such strong mainstream and lifestyle companies is a huge compliment."
Mark Owen started using a wheelchair after a road accident in 1996 left him paralysed from the chest down, and with the use of only his right arm.

Rugby Injuries

Leading Rugby physicians and administrators will meet in London next month to participate in the inaugural International Rugby Board Medical Conference.

A key element of the IRB’s Medical Strategic Plan, the annual conference will be held on November 12-13 and will focus on the central theme of putting players first. The Conference is designed to provide delegates with a think-tank environment to consider global research, development and opinion and drive player welfare best-practice.

Strategies in the fight against doping, concussion diagnosis and assessment, the physicality of the Game, catastrophic injuries, advances in Women’s Rugby, the prevention of sudden cardiac death through pre-competition medical assessments as well as player burnout will be among the key topics of discussion.
The group will also consider the latest data from elite performance research and injury surveys undertaken across international and domestic Rugby recent of years by the IRB and its Member Unions.

“The IRB takes the critical area of player welfare extremely seriously and works tirelessly with all 116 Member Unions and key stakeholders to drive extensive global research in order to ensure the continued development of best possible practice for playing, coaching and officiating the Game,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

“The IRB’s Medical Strategic Plan has at its core player welfare. The Srategic Plan will be driven forward by the IRB’s Training and Medical Manager Mark Harrington and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mick Molloy.”
“The aim of this ground-breaking conference is to widen the medical discussion amongst Rugby’s medical practitioners. The group is highly experienced in the field of Rugby medicine and we are also pleased to have some of the world’s foremost experts on injury prevention and management in attendance.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

M&Ms Cure Spinal Cord Injury - Even if it doesn't it still tastes good

In traumatic spinal cord injury, certain skins of molecules form a sugary coating, like m&ms, binding to the surface of neurons and keep nerve fibers from passing the damaged tissue, a necessary step to recovery,.
A pill or two might be able to prevent future devastating spinal cord injuries from turning into paralysis, suggests new research on mice.
feature photoIn a traumatic spinal cord injury, certain skins of molecules — chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, or CSPGs, to be exact — bind to the surface of neurons and keep nerve fibers from passing the damaged tissue, a necessary step to recovery. This scarring can leave a victim permanently paralyzed and without significant hope for treatment, suggesting that if the scarring were blocked, nerve regeneration might be possible.

A new research team, headed up by Harvard Medical School Professor John Flanagan, discovered the nerve-cell receptor that these molecules bind to after a spinal cord injury. The molecules in question have a hard sugary coating — a press release from Harvard likened them to M&Ms — which usually means there won't be a receptor.

After experiments in test tubes and Petri dishes suggested such a receptor might exist, researchers poked a hole in the spinal cord of some adult mice missing the receptor (known as protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma, or PTP sigma) giving them a potentially paralyzing injury. Researchers found that within two weeks, neurons were able to send extensions into the fresh scar tissue surrounding the wound — something that wouldn't occur in normal mice. Their work was reported last week in the journal Science.

Adding to the promise, and independent of the Flanagan lab, researchers at McGill University working on spine-damaged mice have reported growth in neurons at the wound site when those mice are missing PTP sigma.

Jerry Silver, a collaborator on the Flanagan project and professor at Case Western Reserve University, said in the release that the discovery suggests that professionals might be able to treat central nervous system injuries in the future with a pill or drug cocktail. There's an estimated 12,000 new injuries in the U.S. each year.

"It's hard to overcome CSPGs in the human body, but receptors may offer an easier target," Flanagan said. "This discovery may lead to treatments that help repair spinal cord injury and may be beneficial to patients with brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's, multiple sclerosis and stroke."


Researchers find ways to Encourage Spinal Cord Regeneration after Injury

Animal research is suggesting new ways to aid recovery after spinal cord injury. New studies demonstrate that diet affects recovery rate and show how to make stem cell therapies safer for spinal injury patients. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

In other animal studies, researchers identified molecules that encourage spinal cord regeneration and ways to block molecules that discourage it. The findings may help shape therapies for the more than one million people in North America who have spinal cord injuries.
Research released today shows that:
  • A diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates speeds recovery in rats with . The study suggests that dietary content may affect spinal cord injury recovery rates in people (Wolfram Tetzlaff, MD, PhD, abstract 542.10).
  • In animal studies, stem cell implants pre-screened for "unsafe" immature cells helped repair injured spinal cords without dangerous side effects, like . The findings suggest best practices for human stem cell therapies (Masaya Nakamura, MD, PhD, abstract 642.14).
Other findings discussed at the meeting show that:
  • Researchers are discovering how to encourage the spinal cord to regenerate and form functional connections after injury. Growth factors, enzymes, and molecular tools show promising results in animal models (Eric Frank, PhD).
"Some injuries harm , but the brain often recovers from stress, damage, or disease," said press conference moderator Oswald Steward, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine, an expert on spinal cord injury and synaptic plasticity. "We are learning a great deal about how to encourage the recovery process and harness the plasticity of the nervous system to offer hope to injury patients," Steward said.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cranberry Concentrate Reduces Occurrence of Urinary Tract Infections in Spinal Cord Injury Patients

The results of a clinical study, recently published in the journal Spinal Cord, indicate that the use of Cran-Max(R) Cranberry Concentrate for people with spinal cord injury resulted in a significant reduction in both the incidence of urinary tract infection (UTI) and the number of subjects with a UTI over a 12-month period. In the randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial, conducted at the Spinal Cord Injury Unit of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston, MA, 16 subjects had 21 UTIs while taking the placebo, compared to only six subjects who had seven UTIs while taking the Cran-Max cranberry concentrate.

In the article, published in the 2008 edition of the journal, researchers concluded, “Despite advances in the management of neurogenic bladder, urinary tract infection represents a leading cause of morbidity and hospitalization. Cranberry extract tablets should be considered for the prevention of UTI in spinal cord injury patients with neurogenic bladder.”

In the study, patients were randomly assigned to receive either Cran-Max tablets or placebo tablets for six months, followed by the alternative preparation for an additional six months. Of the 47 male subjects who completed the study, results showed that patients with a high glomerular filtration rate received the most benefit from the cranberry supplement.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Low-Carb Diet Speeds Recovery From Spinal Cord Injury

ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2009) — A diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates, known as the "ketogenic" diet, quickens recovery in paralyzed rats after spinal cord injury, according to new research.

The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. More than 10,000 North Americans suffer a new spinal cord injury each year and more than one million people live with such damage.
Patients recovering from spinal cord injuries are typically given high-calorie solutions containing large amounts of sugar intravenously as they heal, even though this nutritional plan has never been validated. Previous studies have shown that fasting is beneficial after partial cervical spinal cord injury in rats, but this strategy is unpopular with patients and clinicians.

In this study, researchers investigated the ketogenic diet as a fasting alternative. As is the case with fasting, a lack of carbohydrates forces the body to use fat as fuel. To test the diet, rats were put on either a standard or ketogenic diet immediately after undergoing a cervical spinal cord contusion. The rats on the ketogenic diet recovered faster: after 14 weeks, 54 percent used their injured paws 15 times more frequently than the rats on a standard diet.

"Our results suggest that a ketogenic diet might be an appropriate initial treatment to improve outcomes in human spinal cord injuries," said Wolfram Tetzlaff, MD, PhD, at International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, and the study's senior author. "Although there are still many unanswered questions and more research is needed, the early results from these animal experiments support the rationale for human trials."


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spinal Cord Injury Patients Demonstrate Progress after Stem Cell Therapy

The XCell-Center has released results from a follow-up study of 115 spinal cord injury patients treated with autologous bone marrow stem cells. Overall, nearly 6o% improved following treatment.

Dusseldorf, Germany (PRWEB) October 21, 2009 -- The XCell-Center has released results from a follow-up study of 115 spinal cord injury patients treated with autologous bone marrow stem cells. Overall, nearly 6o% improved following treatment.

Muscle strength and endurance improved in over 50% of those treated and more than 4 in 10 patients reported a decrease in muscle spasticity. "We returned home and one week after the transplant I noticed my spasticity had decreased by about 85% and I could now put my feet flat on the floor… In March of 2009, I had my Baclofen pump removed," reported Mrs. Patricia Miller, who underwent her first treatment in December, 2008.

These results support the premise that spinal cord injury patients can be treated safely and effectively with autologous stem cell therapy.

The most common improvement, reported by more than 6 out of every 10 patients, was the return of feeling to the hands, feet, arms, legs or trunk.

Around 30% regained bowel and/or bladder function following treatment. A similar percentage experienced improvements in fine motor skills.

"These impressive results demonstrate the significant impact that stem cell therapy has for a majority of spinal injury patients who undergo treatment," remarked Dr. Hans de Munter, the XCell-Center's Chief Scientific Officer.

The treatment begins by collecting a small amount bone marrow from the patient's hip bone using a thin needle under local anesthesia. The stem cells are then separated from the bone marrow at the XCell-Center's EU certified cGMP laboratory (current good manufacturing process). Before the cells leave the lab, they are counted and their vitality is confirmed. The last step of the treatment is the minimally invasive implantation procedure, which consists of injecting the stem cells into the patient's spinal fluid using a spinal needle under local anesthesia.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Techniques to Enhance Spinal Cord Regeneration After Injury?

New discoveries in spinal cord regeneration research were unveiled by a superb panel of well known spinal cord investigators during a press conference at the 40th Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago, Il. During the last ten years, animal research has suggested new ways to speed the recovery of damaged spinal cord in patients. New methodologies and techniques were discussed at today’s morning press conference which included the development of a novel diet, the use of nerve growth factors and the enhancement of stem cell therapy techniques which enable the speedy and smooth recovery of   damaged spinal cord or sensory nerves that attach to the spinal cord.

Overall, these findings will help to mold and re-design existing therapies for spinal cord injury, a devastating condition that affects more than one million Americans each year.

 The distinguished panel of lead investigators who conducted these studies and presented their findings during the morning press conference include Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff from International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, British Colombia; Dr. Nakamura, from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan; and Dr. Erik Frank from Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Even If It Doesn't Work - You Are Still Happy

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A common antidepressant combined with an intensive treadmill training program helped people with partial spinal cord injuries walk better and faster, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.

They said Forest Laboratories' antidepressant Lexapro or escitalopram, which affects a message-carrying brain chemical called serotonin, helps strengthen remaining nerve connections along the spine, giving patients with spinal cord injuries more ability to control their muscles during training.

"The drug is enhancing the effects of the therapy," said George Hornby, a research scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, who is presenting his findings at the Society for Neuroscience's meeting in Chicago.
"The drug on its own isn't a miracle drug. What you need is the drug plus the training," Hornby said in a telephone interview.
The findings are the first in humans and builds on studies in animals that found giving serotonin-like drugs after spinal cord injuries can promote recovery of walking when paired with an intensive training program.

For their study, Hornby and colleagues tested the effects of antidepressants in 50 people who had partial ability to move a year after they had suffered a spinal cord injury.

Of these, 34 patients could walk on their own, but slowly.

All 50 underwent an eight-week walking program on a motorized treadmill, assisted by a robot or physical therapist. Up to 40 percent of their body weight was supported in a harness.
Five hours before training, they were given either 10 mg of Lexapro or a placebo.
While both groups improved, those who took Lexapro were able to walk much faster, Hornby said.

He said the drugs appeared to work by increasing muscle spasms experienced by people with spinal cord injuries, something most doctors consider to be a negative side effect of these types of injuries.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monkey Attendants - A Possible Improvement

Marlborough Enterprise Fun RSS

monkey1 Inside his Phelps Street living room, Jim Mosso tries to reason with an uncooperative 20-year-old.

When he asks her to pick up a dropped remote, she appears to ignore him. She also stays put on the couch when he asks her to fetch water from the refrigerator. But unexpectedly, she breaks into a heart-melting smile and plants a kiss on top of Mosso's head.

The 20-year-old, named Gizzy, is a Capuchin monkey, an animal noted for its intelligence and helpful spirit. Mosso's job is to get her ready for a higher calling: helping people with disabilities handle everyday tasks.

Mosso is a volunteer foster parent with the Boston-based nonprofit Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled. For the past five years, he has been feeding and diapering Gizzy, taking her to the veterinarian, and teaching her to fetch water, make popcorn, pick up dropped items and do other helpful things around the house.

Like raising a child, the job has its rewards and frustrations, but Mosso is committed to the cause.
"When I heard about Helping Hands, I instantly knew I wanted to help train one of these guys," said Mosso as Gizzy snuggled in his lap. "I checked into it and I was amazed at what these monkeys were doing for people who are disabled."

Helping Hands' mission has been to provide assistance to people with the greatest needs: people who have become quadriplegic (paralyzed from the neck down) as a result of an accident, injury, or disease. The organization also sponsors events that teach others how to prevent spinal cord injuries.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Risks of Cheerleading

Paramedics were called, but by the time they got her heart restarted, her brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long and she was in a coma. Experts say she may have been inadvertently struck in the chest on her descent from the stunt.
Patty Phommanyvong

Confined to a nursing home, Phommanyvong, now 19, can't eat or speak. She communicates by blinking her eyes.

Her father, Say, a Laotian immigrant, said: "I didn't know that they were throwing her up in the air. That's for professionals. Why would the school allow that?"

Variations of Patty's story are all too familiar among cheerleaders. While her tragic circumstance wasn't because of anyone's mistake, there are many examples of even more experienced cheerleaders being seriously hurt in spectacular spills.

Jessica Smith of Sacramento City College broke her neck when she fell headfirst about 15 feet in 2006; Rechelle Sneath, a cheerleader for San Jose State, fell while practicing in 2004 and is paralyzed from the waist down. Yet daredevil stunts are routinely performed at youth, high school and college sporting events across the country.

And, according to experts and reporting by The Times, these stunts are often done without proper safety precautions or supervision.


Is It a Bed or a Wheelchair? It's Very Slow Whatever it is

Moving patients between beds and wheelchairs can be physically tiring for both them and their carers. Now Panasonic have created a revolutionary robotic bed that will transform itself from one to the other.

The device converts smoothly from bed to wheelchair with a simple voice command from the user.  It automatically separates different components as it converts and is then moved around using a joystick on the right armrest.
Enlarge    Panasonic bed
A Panasonic employee demonstrates how the bed is converted into a moving wheelchair using voice commands

The developers hope the Robotic Bed will help people with limited mobility become more independent.

'Now, the user can join the family meal by converting the bed into a wheelchair and moving to the dining table without the need of assistance from other people,' a spokesman said.

The technology was shown to reporters at Panasonic headquarters in Osaka, Japan.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wheelchair Dude Interrupts Important Phone Call

Driver who struck wheelchair-bound man might not be charged

The driver of a car who was using a cell phone when he struck and seriously injured a man in a wheelchair in the East Village may not be charged, police said.

The accident at Ninth Avenue and E Street was reported shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday.  The sedan, which collided with another vehicle before striking the man, came to a stop on top of the victim, SDPD Officer Dino Delimitros said.

After he was freed, the man was taken to UCSD trauma center for treatment of facial fractures. He is expected to recover.

Witnesses tell police the driver was talking on his cell phone at the time of the accident.   Investigators tell News 8 they have confiscated the man's cell phone to tell exactly what time a call may have been received.
Police say the driver will probably not face criminal charges, but they will turn the case over to the District Attorney's office for final determination.


Elevator Swallows, Kills Wheelchair Man

Detroit police are investigating the death of a man who fell down an elevator shaft Monday.

Police said a 58-year-old in a motorized wheelchair was waiting for the elevator in a building on Washington Street.

Witnesses told police when the doors to the elevator opened, the man's wheelchair went forward -- but the elevator was not there.

The man fell eight floors down and died as a result of his injuries. An investigation is under way.

Don't Worry... He Can't Get Far on Foot

College student's wheelchair stolen from campus

A disabled college student is having trouble getting around campus, after someone stole his motorized wheelchair. He emailed the News 8 CrimeFighters asking for help tracking down the thieves responsible for this unthinkable crime.

Twenty-seven-year-old Horus Ocampo is moving around Palomar College a bit slower these days, using a scooter. Earlier this month, thieves stole his motorized wheelchair from campus.

Horus had locked it up and left it charging overnight. When he returned to campus, it was gone - all that was left was the charger.

"I'm having a hard time going to my classes because this [scooter] is really slow, and I'm having a hard time turning it around," Horus said.

Horus has cerebral palsy. His friends are helping him get around campus, but it's not easy. His stolen wheelchair had a custom joystick that allowed Horus to maneuver with one hand. The scooter requires two hands to steer.

"He's frustrated. He can't maneuver as he used to in his other chair and that's affecting him I think. It would be nice to get him back into the chair he had before," Palomar College faculty member Henry Lesperance said.
Horus' wheelchair cost about $5,000 and that means whoever stole it faces grand theft charges.
"It's really difficult for me to replace it. To replace it, it would take me like a year," Horus said.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Bad Luck for "Shed Man"

Harlingen Police are searching for a thief who stole a paralyzed man's debit card and then went on a spending spree.

Woodrow Reed has been living in a shed because he lost his mobile home due to foreclosure.

Since we shared his story, community members have donated 400 dollars to Reed.

The money was put on a debit card for Reed, which was later stolen from his care givers car.

Adela Martinez, Reeds’ caregiver says, “Then at the point in time, I called Mr. Reed realizing what had been taken. He called to get the card cancelled, and in that short amount of time somebody had cleared the money that we had already collected.”


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Americans Flocking to Costa Rica for Stem Cell Treatments

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Dr. Orlando Morales is something of a celebrity at Costa Rica's University of Medical Science, sauntering through the halls in his white lab coat. On a recent walk, students and faculty greeted him with "Feliz cumpleanos, doctor." He just turned 68.

With the excitement of a young doctor fresh out of medical school, Morales' eyes light up when he observes the petri dishes that harvest "celulas madre," or stem cells, from mice.

"It's practically science fiction," Morales said of what he considers the medicine's new miracle worker. Morales is one of the firmest believers around in the power of stem cell treatments.

"After a heart attack, they can begin to make new tissue. In a gland, which for example has to make insulin, the cells begin to create insulin. Nervous tissue, they regenerate it … It's a panacea," he said.

An increasing number of foreigners are undergoing stem cell treatment in Costa Rica for ailments from bone fractures to multiple sclerosis. Costa Rican doctors say they are providing these medical tourists with groundbreaking treatments. But stem cell scientists in the U.S. accuse Costa Rica of offering false hope by pushing techniques that have not been scientifically proven.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cellulitus in SCI

Skin Complications Other than Pressure Ulcers Following Spinal Cord Injury

April, 1993

Skin Complications Other than Pressure Ulcers Following Spinal Cord Injury

by Samuel L Stover M.D.

The skin is the largest organ system of the body affected in individuals with spinal cord injury. Skin complications represent one of the leading causes of anxiety, morbidity and interference with educational, vocational, and social goals. Because pressure ulcers are such a frequent and serious skin complication after spinal cord injury, very little attention has been given to other skin complications which may also affect the lives of persons with SCI and possibly even predispose them to pressure ulcers. There is relatively little information in the literature about skin problems following spinal cord injury that is not related to pressure ulcers.[1,2]
The histology and histopathology of denervated skin have not been studied very extensively. In most of the major dermatology text books, there is no reference to the histopathology of denervated skin. One textbook [3] reports that denervation leads to no definite changes in the form or structure of sweat glands, hairs, blood vessels, and other cutaneous cells. The literature also shows there has been controversy about the affects of denervation on wound healing. [4,5,6,7,8]

A recurring clinical observation in persons with spinal cord injury is the finding of brawny induration (hardening) of the skin, characterized by non-pitting thickening of the skin[9]. An earlier study showed skin biopsies with dermal fibrosis (chronic hardening and shrinking of the connective tissue) similar to that associated with progressive systemic sclerosis (hardening). Indirect immunofluorescence with anti-collagen antibodies against human interstitial collagen Types I and III showed a reduction in Type III collagen (small elastic fibers) in the epidermis, and almost exclusive Type I collagen (large thick bundles) in the entire dermis, including the adipose tissue. [9]

Early pilot studies [references 9 and 10] also suggested that the autonomic nervous system may play some role in the development of this dermal fibrosis since the majority of persons studied with this condition had lesions above the T6 level. Autonomic dysreflexia is known to occur in persons with spinal injuries above T6 and may actually lead to an imbalance of autonomic mediators including either an excess or decrease in certain of the autonomic mediators.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

5 Years After the Death of SCI Fund Raisng Superman

christopher-reeve.jpgThis year may long be remembered for the many the cultural, political, and scientific icons of our lifetime who passed on – Walter Cronkite, Michael Jackson, Norman Borlaug, Farrah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy, and many others.

Five years ago this week, we lost another icon, one who managed to bridge these worlds of culture, politics and science.  On Oct. 10, 2004, Christopher Reeve-- Hollywood’s Superman who gained world-wide fame as a spinal cord injury activist -- died in upstate New York at the age of 52.

His death was a devastating loss not only for his friends and family, but for all the families who were struggling with spinal cord injury, or SCI. Many worried that--with the most visible and very human face of SCI gone -- support for research and care might suffer. And there were serious doubts about the future of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, doubts that grew stronger less than 18 months later when Christopher’s wife Dana died tragically of lung cancer. 

As we remember Christopher on the fifth anniversary of his death, it’s strikingly clear that the nation is at an historic turning point. The last century will be remembered as one of incredible scientific and social achievement – from civil rights, women’s rights, and the environmental movement to the moon landing and the creation of the internet. Will the 21st Century be remembered for creating full freedoms and opportunities for the millions of Americans living with paralysis, or only for decades of disappointment? 

Monday, October 5, 2009

$2.2 Million For Incompetent Care - "Just Turn Him!"

A jury has ordered Westchester Medical Center to pay $2.2 million to a quadriplegic man who got horrific bedsores while staying at the Valhalla hospital after a car crash in 2005.

Eric Trainor, a 30-year-old former construction worker from Putnam County, was awarded the amount last month for pain and suffering, following a civil trial in state Supreme Court in White Plains.

His lawyer, Raymond Keegan, said the hospital's failure to turn Trainor every two hours during his six-week stay - and the failure of Dr. Francis Baccay to ensure that care - caused Trainor to develop "stage four" bedsores on his buttocks and lower back.
"They were all the way down to the bone," Keegan said. "They were huge."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Woman Paralyzed By Hamburger

Stephanie Smith, a children’s dance instructor, thought she had a stomach virus. The aches and cramping were tolerable that first day, and she finished her classes.

Stephanie Smith, 22, was paralyzed after being stricken by E. coli in 2007. Officials traced the E. coli to hamburger her family had eaten.

Stephanie Smith was in a coma for nine weeks after being infected with E. coli.

Then her diarrhea turned bloody. Her kidneys shut down. Seizures knocked her unconscious. The convulsions grew so relentless that doctors had to put her in a coma for nine weeks. When she emerged, she could no longer walk. The affliction had ravaged her nervous system and left her paralyzed.

Ms. Smith, 22, was found to have a severe form of food-borne illness caused by E. coli, which Minnesota officials traced to the hamburger that her mother had grilled for their Sunday dinner in early fall 2007.
“I ask myself every day, ‘Why me?’ and ‘Why from a hamburger?’ ”Ms. Smith said. In the simplest terms, she ran out of luck in a food-safety game of chance whose rules and risks are not widely known.

Bolivian Wheelchair Users Left Hanging

Bolivian aerial wheelchair protest
A group of disabled people in Bolivia are taking extreme measures to demand financial assistance from the government.

A Bolivian television network showed at least half a dozen protesters, wheelchairs included, suspended from the Urubo bridge, near the city of Santa Cruz.

A second group buried themselves in sand by the Pirai river that runs under the bridge.

According to Bolivian media reports, they are demanding an annual allowance of 3,000 Bolivian pesos (£255) from central government.

This protest is the latest in a series staged over the last few months calling for more financial assistance, President Evo Morales' government claims that giving an annual allowance to every disabled person in Bolivia was not "sustainable".

But his vice-president, Alvaro Garcia Linera told a Bolivian radio station that 40 million pesos (£3.4 million) would be used to improve health centres, infrastructure and housing earmarked for the disabled.

Wheelchair Stud Tackles Pervert in Walmart

Cameron AulnerWESTMINSTER, Colo. - It was anything but an ordinary Saturday at the Wal-Mart at 92nd and Sheridan.

Westminster Police confirm that on September 19th, a man "touched" a 10-year-old girl while she pushed her 2-year-old cousin in the toy department. According to the arrest affidavit, witnesses said the suspect then ran away after the little girl screamed.

She told officers a man came toward her, she turned her back to the shelves, and he reached around and then "squeezed her butt." She began to scream and ran away, looking for another adult.

The affidavit says one witness, Chris Bevin, saw the suspect, 34-year-old Kevin Salyers, run from the toy department. Bevin told investigating officers that he began to run after Salyers, and shouted "stop that man!" But no one was able to stop him.

That's when a man working at the Comcast table at the front of the store went into action. Even more amazing, the Comcast employee, 22-year-old Cameron Aulner was in a wheel chair. Aulner pulled in front of the suspect, and grabbed his t-shirt. Aulner says he wound up out of his wheel chair, and on top of the suspect who was on the ground.

Psycho Stalker Who Paralyzed Model Gets Life in Prison

A man is sentenced to life in prison for shooting and then running over an Oakland Park woman with his car.

Allan Sinclair IV, 37, was convicted of attempted first-degree murder in June. A judge sentenced him Friday morning.Prosecutors said Sinclair planned to rape, kidnap, and kill Christine Kent. They said when Sinclair arrived at Kent's home in 2007 he shot her while she tried to run away and a bullet hit her spinal cord. He then came at her with his car.Kent faced her attacker in court. "All I saw was this huge tire coming straight at me. I screamed Allen, please don't run me over. I felt this pressure on top of my body, on top of my abdomen," Kent said.Kent was hospitlized for several months and now lives on government disability.

Your Body Is Making Your Spinal Cord Injury Worse

spinalcordinjuryThe Ohio State Medical Center (OSMC) recently published a study online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study explored the effects of the body’s immune response after a spinal cord injury. It was already widely known that immune cells gather and release large amounts of antibodies in spinal fluid around a fresh injury site. Up until the OSMC study was published, no one knew exactly how those antibodies affected the injury. The study revealed that antibodies can actually damage and worsen the spinal cord injury by confusing the immune system into attacking the cells near the injury site as a response.

The study leader, Phillip G. Popovich, discerned a possible solution to the problem they identified. By inhibiting certain antibody-producing cells, the scientists asserted, a spinal cord injury patient might benefit from faster healing and reduced risk of more severe long-term damage. Popovich said, “[The antibodies] may also help explain why the central nervous system does not repair itself efficiently and why other impairments often follow spinal cord injury.”

The study was conducted using anaesthetized mice that had been given moderate spinal injuries. Half of the mice had normal immune systems and the other half had immune systems that did not produce antibodies. The group with the inhibited immune systems showed about 30% smaller areas of injury than the mice with normal functioning immune systems.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

American Indian Quad Horse Whisperer

We Don’t Surrender Until We Have To

A few years back, in a not-unusual state of panic in my personal life and hubris in my professional one, I spent several winter months in Wyoming. More specifically, my job as a journalist required me to sit at a battered kitchen table in the middle of the Wind River Indian Reservation, swapping stories with a quadriplegic Northern Arapaho horse gentler and traditional healer named Stanford Addison. I went home with nothing particularly resolved, but happier than I’d been in years.

Stanford had lost more than anyone I’d ever known. He was paralyzed at age 20, when the truck in which he was traveling to a party hit some horses wandering on a dark reservation road. But by the time I arrived 23 years later, he was holding sweat lodges to help his neighbors twice a week. He was assisted in the lodge and the corral by young men and kids, some adopted as his own children, others just passing through or released to him by tribal courts and social programs. When the beds filled up, kids and other visitors slept sprawled on couches or on the floor.

Although terrible things happened on the reservation — crime and addiction and violence were never far away — happiness was all over the place on this ragtag ranch. As the weeks passed, my spirits palpably started to lift. I would find myself breaking into laughter in the middle of washing dishes after dinner, or while I crunched over the snow to see the horses in their shaggy winter coats, puffing steam into the frigid air. Somehow, the volume was being turned down on the internal voice that tended to drive my actions, the voice that shouted, “I must get what I want! I must get what I want! Something is seriously wrong if I don’t get what I want!”

Friday, October 2, 2009

CEO Suffers Spinal Cord Injury

Riding his bicycle on a hilltop near his Canandaigua home May 30, Dr. Bradford Berk didn't see any cars coming along the narrow North Vine Valley Road.


But rounding a sharp curve, he suddenly encountered an oncoming car "quite a bit over in my side of the lane," said Berk, speaking publicly Thursday for the first time since he suffered a spinal cord injury. Berk is still on leave from his post as chief of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The car forced him off the pavement, said Berk. "When I got off the road, my bicycle tire blew. As I continued to pedal, I ended up going over the handlebars."

His bicycle helmet protected his head, likely preventing a traumatic brain injury.

The driver of the car immediately came over and — not yet realizing that Berk was unable to move — said, "Did I surprise you?"

Berk's reply: "I think I've broken my neck, so please don't touch me." Berk, who never blacked out, asked the elderly man whether he had a cell phone and asked him to call 911.

"Indeed," said Berk with a wry laugh, "I was surprised by that car."

Berk — usually a fast-talking, brisk-walking executive known for his multi-tasking and impatience — told the story calmly from a motorized wheelchair. He hasn't worn a watch since the accident. He's focused on regaining as much strength and ability as he can.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hayride Gone Haywire

Lauren Barkwick, a former worker at an elite horse ranch known for providing horses for movies and television in Canada, learned an extremely tough lesson about the value of life and freedom of movement. Barwick had competed with and defeated other applicants to land an internship at the Mission, British Columbia studio ranch. She was only a week into her new job when she had a catastrophic accident that left her irreversibly paralyzed.

Work at the studio ranch required difficult physical labor, and Barwick eagerly sought out the position. Part of her duties at the ranch included feeding the horses with bales of hay at 7:00 a.m. On the fateful morning of her accident, Barwick climbed up a poorly stacked pile of hay bales to knock a bale down to feed the horses.

Once Barwick had climbed to the top of the hay bales, she realized it was unsafe. She jumped back down to the ground immediately. A bale of hay came with her and smashed her to the ground. It broke her back and left her paralyzed from the waist down. The accident had smashed two bones in her spine and severed her spinal cord.


Spinal Cord Injured at Higher Risk for Bladder Cancer

Department of Urology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

Retrospective review.Objective:Spinal cord injury is a known risk factor for bladder cancer. The risk of bladder cancer has been reported at 16-28 times higher than the general population. Earlier studies have identified indwelling catheters as risk factors. We examined the characteristics of bladder cancers in a spinal cord injury (SCI) population.

Long Beach VA Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Unit, Long Beach, California.
We reviewed SCI patients seen and diagnosed with bladder tumors between January 1983 and January 2007. Data collected included time since diagnosis, method of diagnosis, form of bladder management, pathologic type, treatment of the tumor, and outcome.

A total of 32 patients with bladder cancer were identified out of 1319 seen. Tumors found were 46.9% squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), 31.3% transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), 9.4% adenocarcinoma, and 12.5% mixed TCC and SCC. The primary form of bladder management was 44% urethral catheter for a mean of 33.3 years, 48% external catheter for a mean of 37.4 years, and 8% intermittent catheterization for a mean of 24.5 years. Nineteen patients had a known method of cancer detection with 42% found on screening cystoscopy.

The pathologic makeup of the tumors is similar to that reported earlier. Over 50% of patients diagnosed with bladder cancer in our population did not have an indwelling catheter. This suggests that the neurogenic bladder, not the indwelling catheter, may be the risk factor for bladder cancer. Urologists should consider diligent, long-term screening of all patients with SCI for bladder cancer and not just those with indwelling catheters.