Along with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are the most life-altering that an accident victim can suffer. When the spinal cord is damaged, victims usually lose some sensation and mobility. They also can suffer damage to their hearts and immune systems, which can lead to long-term complications and eventually death. Any medical advance to treat spinal damage is welcome news to victims and their families.
U.S. News reports that researchers are optimistic that the painkiller Gabapentin might slow spinal cord damage after an accident. The study was performed on mice, not humans, but the results are promising.
How the Drug Helps
A person’s autonomic nervous system is responsible for heart rate, blood pressure, and other involuntary processes. Most of us will be aware of it for the first time when encountering a dangerous situation. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which create the “flight or fight” response when you feel threatened.
After a spinal cord injury, however, the spinal cord undergoes structural changes that affect the autonomic nervous system. In particular, the system can trigger this flight-or-fight response for no valid reason. According to doctors, something as innocent as having a bladder fill with urine might trigger a response.
Consequently, victims end up suffering from serious cardiovascular problems, such as strokes and heart attacks. Their immune systems can also be compromised. Many people with spinal cord injuries will suffer from bouts of pneumonia, which can become particularly deadly as we age.
How this Drug Helps
Researchers found that giving Gabapentin soon after an accident can limit these structural changes that impact the autonomic nervous system. Researchers performed studies on mice that had their spinal cords injured and were impressed with the results. Benefits lasted even a month after the mice stopped taking the drug.
Currently, there is no treatment for impairment to this nervous system. Instead, doctors can only manage the symptoms. But if this drug is successful in humans, fewer people with spinal cord injuries will suffer unwarranted fight-or-flight responses. This should increase their well-being, reduce medical costs, and improve the lives of those who take care of them.
Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
Spinal cord injuries are expensive, with victims running up seven-figure medical care bills. Importantly, a settlement can defray the cost of care and provide a fair sum for a victim’s pain and suffering. For more information about your rights following an accident, call the Miami law firm of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein today, 305-371-2692.