Spinal cord injury patients around the world may draw new hope for the future from the story of a paralyzed little dog who was able to walk again after receiving an experimental spinal cord treatment. Cambridge University scientists pioneered the new treatment that made it possible for Henry the dachshund to walk after he was paralyzed by a severe spinal cord injury.
Veterinarians at the Cambridge Veterinary School took cells from the dog’s nose and injected them into his ailing spinal cord. The New York Daily News reported that nose cells were used because they encourage the growth of new nerve fibers in the spinal cord. Henry had lost the ability to walk at the end of last year when discs between the vertebrae in his spine ruptured. It was also reported that certain species of canines have an increased risk of spinal cord injuries, so they make good candidates for exploration of experimental treatments.
Scientists had previously reported success with the nose cell technique in experiments with rats, which inspire professors Nick Jeffrey and Robin Franklin to attempt the experimental procedure on the dachshund. The scientists hope to eventually use the procedure to treat human patients with severe spinal cord injuries.
In addition to the medical treatment, Henry received physiotherapy and rehabilitation on a treadmill. Only a month after getting the nose cell treatment, Henry was able to walk again. The poor little puppy was reportedly downtrodden and depressed before he received the procedure. Afterward, his owner reported signs of the dog’s returning happiness.
Sarah Beech, the owner of the lucky dachshund, was amazed by the miraculous results of the veterinary treatment. She was quoted in the New York Daily News article saying, “It’s incredible,” Henry’s owner, Sarah Beech, told the Daily Mail. “I didn’t think Henry would ever be able to walk again, but over the last few months, he has been wagging his tail and taking small steps.”
The news of such rapid success in reversing Henry’s paralysis should bring hopeful expectation to the many spinal cord injury patients waiting for such amazing treatments to be made available to humans. With all the recent advances in spinal cord injury treatments, it seems only a matter of time before paralysis is seen as a temporary, instead of irreversible, condition.