Researchers at the School of Medicine in the University of Maryland have reported findings that indicate that spinal cord injuries and damage may also lead to a reduction in brain function. In their study, researchers found that spinal cord injuries may be linked to a range of widespread and permanent brain inflammation and degeneration resulting in loss of nerve cells and associated depression and cognitive disorders.
Spine and brain damage
The researchers reported their findings in a pair of articles, including one for the Journal of Neuroscience, which has linked injury to the spine from accident or disease and associated brain degeneration. They do not regard the two factors as inextricably linked, and instead offer some solutions that can help to prevent degeneration of the brain during the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
The researchers report that studies in animals show that traumatic brain injury, even mild ones, can result in degenerative damage and decline in cognitive function, as shown in humans by boxers, and rugby players. However their new information also reports that this damage could occur after injuries to the spine, which do not directly damage the brain.
Isolated incidents of spinal cord damage have been directly linked to a loss of cells in vital areas of the brain for the first time. The researchers have studied the role of molecular actions which have resulted in these changes, and have suggested that there are drugs which should be used to prevent brain damage when treating those with spinal cord injuries.
Drug treatment halts the process
The researchers highlighted a number of drug groups which could be used in combination to hold back brain cell loss in patients with spinal damage. The drugs will be used to prevent inflammation in the brain, depression caused by cell-loss, and cognitive decline. Treating these factors early may play an important role in generating new methods of handling spinal cord damage in patients.
The problems of spinal cord damage originate from a range of sources, from injuries to vitamin depletion and age-related degeneration.