On the whole I tend to be fairly cynical about things. I’m not sure if this is a pre or post-accident trait of mine, but it’s there. I am quite pessimistic about the ‘cure’ for spinal injury, but I actually think this is a smarter way for me to be. When I was first in hospital and people kept mentioning stem cells and the cure being just around the corner I got so excited that any day someone would come to the ward, give me a pill or an injection and then I would be fine again. Needless to say it didn’t happen, and I have since learned that ‘around the corner’ doesn’t mean tomorrow, next week or next month.
That being said, however, my dad emailed me this article this morning, and for the first time I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel shining a little bit brighter.
Stem cells have been cited as the way forward for curing SCI for some time now, but there have been mixed results. Last year a massive human trial in the USA had its funding stopped as the results hadn’t been very encouraging, but in other places there have apparently been some extremely promising results.
Obviously there is a massive difference between the anatomy of a dog and a human, but I found this article very interesting (and particularly the video). The main reason for my interest is because the SCI that they were treating with stem cells here are from traumas that occurred naturally. In all the other testing that I have read about with rats, the scientists have been the ones to create the spinal injury, and so have been able to cause a clean break of the spinal cord, which is rarely the case in reality.
When I damaged my spinal cord I managed to fracture two vertebrae, fragments of which were pushed into the spinal cord and basically created a complete mess in my spine! The messier the damage is, the more scar tissue forms at the injury site, and this acts like a brick wall for the damaged nerves to try and re-connect through. Scar tissue is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome, so when testing on rats and creating a nice clean break of the spinal cord, there is much less general trauma to the area and as a result less scar tissue. (I am not a scientist, so my specificities may be slightly off, but the general idea is correct)
Stem cells are not the only aspects of SCI research that are showing positive results. As the injury is so complex there are loads of different areas and treatments being looked into. The common denominator of all of these, which is what I am happiest about, is physical therapy. My main focus in life at the moment, the hours that I spend standing, crawling, cycling, walking etc are putting me in the best possible position to benefit from any kind of treatment that is discovered. This makes me very happy!!!
So not only is little Jasper the adorably cute Dachshund walking again, but I am encouraged to keep up with my physical therapy and to keep myself in the best shape possible so that when I am presented with a magic pill or an injection I will be cured and can resume my normal life. Ok, so chances are it won’t happen quite that easily, but it is something very bright and sunny on an otherwise freezing Monday morning!