Irreversible tissue loss that occurs after a spinal injury can impair treatment, and delay a person’s ability to recover many of the essential functions that are lost after a spinal injury. New research finds that such tissue loss begins much sooner than earlier believed.
According to the study which was published recently in The Lancet Neurology journal, tissue loss begins as quickly as 40 days after the person has suffered an injury. That is much sooner than was earlier believed. The investigative team analyzed a group of 13 patients who had suffered a spinal injury, and monitored their condition every three months over a period of one year after they had suffered the spinal injury. After the one-year period was up, they found that the diameter of the spinal cord was 7% less than it was before the injury.
There was also a decline in the corticospinal tract, which is the area of the spine that is mainly responsible for motor control as well as the nerve cells in the brain sensorimotor cortex, which is the area that is responsible for integrating the senses and motor system.
The researchers found that patients who had suffered greater amount of irreversible tissue loss tended to have much delayed recovery, compared to those who showed lower declines in tissue amounts after the injury. Earlier studies had held that it took years for this tissue loss to occur in the spinal injury site. The good news is that new MRI technology definitely allows doctors to assess the quality of tissue loss, and determine the course of treatment to take.