Stem Cell Trial Test on Patients with Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

New Spinal Cord Injury Research

A recent report from CNN discussed a new stem cell trial test on patients suffering from a chronic spinal cord injury.  All of the patients involved in the study had a “grade A level of impairment,” which means “complete paralysis with no motor or sensory function in the relevant segments at and below the injury.”  Each of the patients involved in the study suffers from a thoracic spinal cord injury, which typically involves the thoracic inter-vertebral joint of the thoracic muscle.

The thoracic inter-vertebral joint holds together the levels of the spine, and an injury typically results from a forced movement of the thoracic spine, either forward or backward.  Patients with this type of injury typically feel severe pain around the spine and often in the chest.  Injury to the thoracic muscle, on the other hand, often occurs in sports that involve throwing, like football, baseball, basketball, or boxing.  This injury can also occur from heavy lifting. Sufferers of this type of thoracic spinal injury usually feel pain whenever they bend forward or backward, in addition to chronic pain in the area of injury in the back.  In serious accidents, thoracic spinal injuries can result in complete and permanent paralysis.

If the study’s participants all suffer from complete paralysis, what can the stem cell trial hope to accomplish?  According to the report, the researchers hope to “return meaningful function to the patients.” In order to do that, they believe that a stem cell transplant can use stem cells to reconnect injured nerves with healthy nerves.

The study is being conducted at the UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center, which is a leading center for stem cell medicine and science. According to Joseph Ciacci, the principal researcher in the study and a neurosurgeon at UC San Diego Health System, the goal of the study at this point is to evaluate how well stem cell transplants might work for spinal cord injury victims.

Ciacci explained that “the goal of this study is to evaluate the safety of transplanting neural stem cells into the spine for what could one day be a treatment for spinal cord injuries.”  He states further that, “the study’s immediate goal . . . is to determine whether injecting these neural stem cells into the spine of patients with spinal cord injury is safe.”

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) maintains data about the frequency of spinal cord injuries in the US.  How common are spinal cord injuries?  The following are facts and figures concerning spinal cord injuries:


  • According to the NSCISC, not including victims of fatal spinal cord injuries, there are around 12,000 new injuries each year in the United States.
  • Approximately 273,000 Americans are currently living with a spinal cord injury.
  • Young adults have the greatest risk of suffering a serious spinal cord injury. About half of all reported incidents occur to people between 16-30 years old.
  • Males are at a substantially greater risk of suffering a spinal cord injury. In fact, more than 80 percent of all spinal cord injuries reported involve male victims.

The most common causes of spinal cord injury include the following:

  • Motor vehicle-related accidents (nearly 37 percent);
  • Falls (nearly 30 percent);
  • Assault and violence (about 14 percent); and
  • Sports-related injuries (about 9 percent).

If you have suffered a serious spinal cord injury, you may be able to seek compensation. Contact a spinal cord injury attorney today to learn more about how we can help

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