Thursday, June 24, 2010

Popeye Never Had a Spinal Cord Injury

Folate study shows promise in healing spinal cord injuries

A study funded by the U.S. Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, produced results that show the vitamin folate appears to promote healing in damaged rat spinal cord tissue by triggering a change in DNA. Findings of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Researchers report that the healing effects of the vitamin increased with the dosage, until regrowth of the damaged tissue reached a maximum level. Additional studies are needed to determine what role folate might play in spinal cord injury treatment for human beings.

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in leafy green vegetables and other foods. Folate helps produce and maintain cells, and is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. The vitamin is important for the formation of the brain and spinal cord in the early embryo.

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid each day to reduce their risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord injury.

In addition to leafy green vegetables, you can find folate in citrus fruits and juices, and dried beans and peas. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, published regulations requiring the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products.

Some medications such as anti-convulsants, metformin, and barbiturates may interfere with folate utilization and render you deficient. Symptoms of a folate deficiency may include digestive disorders such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Additional signs may include weakness, headaches, sore tongue, heart palpitations, irritability, forgetfulness, and behavioral disorders, however, all of these symptoms may indicate various other medical conditions as well.

Individuals over 50 years of age are forewarned by health experts to be aware of a potential interaction between folic acid and vitamin B12, and to keep their health care providers informed if they are taking folic acid supplements.

Please click here for a Folic Acid Pamphlet provided by the Michigan Department of Community Health Birth Defects Program. It provides a list of foods that contain folic acid and provides information on reading food labels.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Glimmer of Hope from a Mouse

Mice hair could repair spinal damage

A POTENTIAL treatment for spinal cord injuries has been found in the most unlikely of places - mice hair.

The ground-breaking discovery, unveiled at the World Congress for Hair Research in Cairns on Friday, may give a glimmer of hope to those who cannot walk, The Cairns Post reports.

US and Japanese researchers have found a new source of stem cells in the hair follicles of mice.

The stem cells, discovered by chance by scientists from research lab Anticancer, based in San Diego, have been found to repair nerve and spinal cord injury in mice, allowing them to walk again.

Similar cells obtained from human hair also had the same effect on mice, potentially demonstrating the same treatment could be applied to humans suffering spinal cord injuries.

Researchers stumbled on the discovery while examining the skin of mice, attempting to trace cancer cells.

Anticancer president Robert Hoffman, who is also a professor at the University of California’s medical centre said when the cells were placed into the severed nerve of a mouse, it was found to eventually rejoin and regain its function.

In a remarkable video shown at the conference, a mouse with its spinal cord severed was filmed running about after it had been treated with the hair follicle based stem cells.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Significant Advances "Just Around the Corner"

Stem cell research that could offer hope to spinal cord injury victims has received a massive boost in Canada, with a C$2.3million grant allowing scientists to explore how stem cells could help to repair damaged nerves. The money will provide vital pre-clinical testing facilities to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary. The research is of international importance and, if successful, could mean a huge advance in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

The institute has recently carried out tests on rodents that have enabled the scientists to find ways of repairing and redirecting damaged nerves so that they are able to function in the same way prior to the onset of the damage. The funding will allow the team to continue their work as well as develop practical, marketable applications for their discoveries. The institute also believes that the additional funding will allow them to draw in some of the top scientists in the field to work on the project and combine the best intellectual resources to push the work forward.

“This is great news for victims suffering from spinal cord injuries,” comments Paul Breen of specialist claims experts Serious Law. “Spinal cord injuries, although not common, have a devastating effect on victims. Any research that offers hope of increased mobility, a greater chance of recovery and a return to an almost normal life is to be welcomed with open arms. Stem cell research, despite its sometimes controversial nature, is demonstrating itself to be of incredible importance in the advancement of more complex treatments for serious injuries. This news from Canada shows that the scientific community is taking this research very seriously indeed. It could mean considerable advances in treatments are just around the corner,” he adds.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Please Don't Try This At Home

Scratches on the Face but Possible Spinal Cord Injury Next Time

Mountain Bikers Risk Spinal Injuries: Study

A new study of spinal fractures and spinal cord injuries associated with mountain biking suggests the sport may be just as risky as diving, football and cheerleading.

“The medical, personal, and societal costs of these injuries are high,” wrote the authors of the study in a report published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Mountain biking, which involves high speeds and long vertical drops over extreme terrain, is growing in popularity. But researchers warn the sport invites a risk of serious spinal injuries, with one of every six cases studied resulting in total paralysis.

Such accidents typically affect young, male, recreational riders, they said.

"People need to know that the activities they choose to engage in may carry with them unique and specific risks," said Dr. Marcel Dvorak of the University of British Columbia in Canada during an interview with Reuters.

"Helmets will not protect you from these injuries, nor will wearing Ninja Turtle-like body armor."

While prior studies have looked at the range of injuries sustained by mountain bikers, and spinal injuries in general across a broad variety of sports, none had yet examined the specific risks of spinal cord injury among mountain bikers.

Dvorak and his team identified 102 men and 5 women who were treated at British Columbia's primary spine center between 1995 and 2007 after suffering a mountain biking accident.

On average, the patients were 33 years old, and all but two were recreational riders.

The researchers determined that over the 13-year study period, the annual rate of spinal injury among those that mountain biked was one in 500,000 British Columbia residents. Furthermore, mountain bikers accounted for 4 percent of all spinal trauma admissions to the center.

Surgery was required for roughly two-thirds of the mountain bikers, but the most serious injuries were the 40 percent involving the spinal cord. Of those, more than four in ten led to complete paralysis, the researchers found.

"Wrist fractures and facial fractures are common…but spine injuries are the most severe with the most profound long-term consequences,” Dvorak said.

The majority of mountain bikers were injured as a result of either being thrust over the handlebars (going "endo") or falling from significant heights ("hucking"), he said.