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Study shows scars help to heal spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries affect many people in North Carolina who have been involved in serious car accidents and falls. Around 12,500 people in the United States sustain a spinal cord injury each year, and there are approximately 276,000 people in the country who are currently living with one.

Researchers from UCLA who have been studying spinal cord injuries have determined that scars at the injury site help nerves to regrow. The senior author of the study said that he was completely surprised to find out that when scar formation was blocked after a spinal cord injury, the outcome for the injury became worse. When his research team looked more closely into scar formation on spinal cord injuries, they found that the scar-forming cells known as astrocytes were actually bridges, not barriers, to nerve regrowth.

According to the UCLA researchers, astrocytes move towards the site of a spinal cord injury and form a scar. Scars reduce inflammation at the injury site, prevent damage from being spread to other areas and help aid the growth of axons. Prior to the study, it was widely believed that scars inhibited the growth of axons, the nerve cell extensions that carry messages between nerve cells. When axons are damaged or don't regrow after a spinal cord injury, the result can be paralysis.

When an accident victim is paralyzed from a severe spinal cord injury, medical expenses may increase significantly while the victim's ability to earn income is compromised. If the injury was the result of a car accident caused by the negligence of another motorist, legal counsel might be of assistance in seeking compensation for the losses that have been sustained and that are expected to arise in the future.

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