Paralysis is only the most obvious result of a spinal cord injury. The damage to the nervous system puts the body into an uncontrolled fight or flight state. This unending strain can put people with spinal injuries at higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and serious infections like pneumonia. It’s the reason many people with paraplegia or tetraplegia die years or decades earlier than they might have otherwise.
That is why a lot of medical researchers are studying ways of reducing the lifespan-shortening effects of spinal cord damage, in addition to the efforts to reverse or ease paralysis. One development that might be promising for spinal cord patients in Georiga is the pain relief drug gabapentin. Researchers believe it might stop the changes in the nervous system that lead to the fight or flight dysfunction.
Research still in early phases
Scientists at The Ohio State University have tested this theory on mice. They found that even a month after receiving gabapentin, paralyzed mice still had health benefits. One of the researchers said that gabapentin seems to cause reduced cardiovascular problems and immune system suppression. The Food and Drug Administration has already approved gabapentin for use in treating neuropathic pain, which could make it easier to get it approved for this second function for spinal cord patients.
Paralysis may only be part of the effects
The limitations on the patient’s movement and sensation are the most obvious effect of a spinal cord injury suffered at work. But there can be many other symptoms too. These effects may have a dramatic impact on the victim’s quality of life and their family’s ability to enjoy their companionship and income-earning power.