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Study shows scar tissue may help spinal cord injuries

Pennsylvania readers may be interested in learning that the scars that form over spinal cord injuries could actually help patients heal, according to a new study. The findings, which were published in the journal Nature, surprised the scientists that conducted the study.

Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles studied the regrowth of axon nerve cells on the injured spinal cords of mice. The scientists blocked the growth of scar tissue cells in the mice, believing it may help in the recovery process. However, contrary to popular belief, they observed that there was no axon nerve regrowth in the absence of scar tissue. Further, scar tissue cells called astrocytes appeared to help the axons regrow. The authors of the study believe this is because astrocytes reduce inflammation and protect surrounding tissue from further damage. This is surprising because doctors have long believed that scar tissue prevents axon regrowth by getting in the way.

Approximately 12,500 people suffer spinal cord injuries each year in the U.S., and around 276,000 Americans are thought to be living with the effects of spinal cord damage. Scientists have been studying a number of ways to repair injured or severed nerve connections in the spinal cord to restore functions.

Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis and other health issues that require long-term medical care. Pennsylvania residents who have suffered a spinal cord injury through no fault of their own may benefit by speaking to an attorney about their legal options. After reviewing the details of the case, legal counsel may recommend pursuing a personal injury lawsuit again the responsible party or parties seeking compensation for damages, including medical expenses.

Source: Medical News Today, "Spinal injury scars appear to help, not hinder, nerve regrowth," Catharine Paddock, April 11, 2016

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