Spinal Cord Injuries the Facts of Neuropathology: Opportunities and Limitations
It is essential for research projects which are undertaken to find a “cure” for human spinal cord injury (SCI) to be consistent with the neuropathological facts of the disorder. In this respect there are three main points to be taken into account. Firstly, the researcher should be aware that simple transection of the spinal cord is not a feature of human SCI. The usual lesion is one of compression and disruption with haemorrhage. The second and most important aspect of human SCI is to understand that Wallerian degeneration inevitably ensues following disruption of the axon. Wallerian degeneration is progressive and inexorable and unlike the peripheral nervous system CNS axons do not regenerate. The third and more helpful fact is that in the majority (71%) of SCI autopsies a small amount of white matter, myelin and axons, was found to be preserved at the level of injury. Re-activation of these dormant, axons offers the opportunity for improvement of the SCI patient’s neurological status by means of restorative neurology (RN).
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