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New Research Shows Nasal Cells May Help Spinal-Cord-Injured Patients

Spinal-cord injured patients who were treated with cells transplanted from their nasal cavities showed improvement in their movement and function, according to new research.

A three-year clinical trial at Wenzhou Medical University in China saw patients receive transplanted olfactory mucosa (nasal cavity) cells in order to build a ‘bridge’ between the damaged areas of their spinal cords.

The trial saw 12 patients with complete spinal-cord injuries receive olfactory mucosa lamina propria (OLP) transplants. Unlike previous similar studies – which failed to include long-term patient follow-up – the researchers studied the patients’ progress over three years following surgery.

Complete spinal-cord injuries involve damage that extends across the full width of the nervous tissue, resulting in a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of the injury.

Post-operative images revealed how the transplants had bridged the ends of the patients’ severed spinal cords. Researchers believe this could possibly help in establishing ideal conditions for early motor or sensory recovery.

After reporting improvements in motor function, bladder function and day-to-day activities, researchers determined that the use of OLP transplants was 'promising and safe.'

A spokesperson from the Department of Spinal Surgery at Wenzhou Medical University stated, “Most of the patients exhibited improvements within the first 12 to 24 months after surgery and their functional recovery slowly increased, but plateaued at 24 months after surgery.”

More improvement was noted in sensory function rather than motor function, particularly in regards to the bladder. Age and the severity of the injury, however, were both factors that influenced the final outcome.

Although it is clear this study was successful in part in that it showed OLP transplants can improve motor and sensory skills, it is important to stress that no miracle cure for spinal cord injuries is imminent and extensive further research is necessary to optimise these improvements.

For patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries, their focus must remain centred on their rehabilitation to help them build strength and skills and improve their quality of movement and independence.

The Slater and Gordon Spinal Injuries team can arrange medical treatment, physiotherapy, counselling, retraining, re-housing and many other rehabilitation services.

We can also work to secure Interim Payments of compensation whenever possible to relieve financial pressures and cover immediate expenses for your rehabilitation.

Jenny Maloney is an Associate Solicitor specialising in Spinal Injury Claims at Slater Gordon Lawyers UK.

The Slater and Gordon Spinal Injuries team has access to a network of treatment providers and medical experts with a vast range of experience in helping people who have suffered serious injuries.

For a free consultation, call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.

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