I have a cousin who used to love riding horses. One day she fell off of her horse and hurt her back. She was in a back brace for a considerable amount of time and could no longer pursue the hobby that she loved. Eventually she had to sell her prized horse. But now at least she is still able to walk and get around.
Steve Reeves played Superman in all of the Superman movies. His clean cut good looks made him perfect t for the role. Then he too fell off of a horse, but his injuries were much more severe than those of my cousin. His spinal cord injuries left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He couldn’t even breathe without assistance. Eventually he died, but before that he became a spokesman in favor of stem cell research.
There is a possibility that stem cells may be able to be used to regenerate damaged spinal cord tissue and help those like Steve to walk.
Unfortunately, we have reached another impasse with stem cell research here in the United States with the recent ruling of a federal judge that the stem cell research that is funded by the federal government is illegal. So the poor folks with spinal cord injuries will have to wait for a cure.
But there are some nerve injuries that the body can heal amazingly on its own. While most spinal cord injuries are lasting and permanent, some of the peripheral nerves can regenerate on their own.
According to Medical news Today: ” Unlike nerves of the spinal cord, the peripheral nerves that connect our limbs and organs to the central nervous system have an astonishing ability to regenerate themselves after injury.” This was reported in the October issue of Cell magazine.
We have done a lot of research on how nerve cells develop, but when a person suffers a limb amputation, the cells have to regenerate. We are jut now starting to understand how they do that.
The regrowth is not an easy process because the nerve cells are very long. The nucleus of the cell is in the spinal cord and the cells can actually reach all the way down a person’s leg.
So if you get run over by a car and the nerves are cut, the nerves that are far from the spinal cord begin to die. Somehow they must find their way back through the damaged tissue to regenerate. Somehow these cells return to a stem cell-like state.
Further research needs to be done to show how they do that. Studying lizards that are able to easily regrow a limb is one possibility, as well as doing more research to study how human stem cells work. But we need more stem cell lines for that to happen and right now everything is at a standstill with the federal ruling.