Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury resulting from accidents, gunshots or other traumas is a tragedy that affects people of all ages. However, many victims tend to be young adults and most are male. About 53% spinal cord injuries occur among persons in the 16 to 30 year age group. Overall, 81% of all persons suffering form spinal cord injuries are male.

Vehicular accidents cause 44% of these injuries. One-quarter (26%) are the result of violence and 22% are the result of falls. Sports injuries account for 7% of these injuries. The remaining 1% of spinal cord injuries results from work-related or other accidents.

Paraplegia (losses of movement and sensation in the lower body) affects 47% of the SCI population and 52% are affected by quadriplegia (losses of movement and sensation in both the arms and legs).

Human and Social Costs

Approximately 250,000 to 400,000 people in the United States have spinal cord injuries. Every year, approximately 11,000 more Americans sustain new spinal cord injuries – amounting to 30 new injuries every day.

Spinal cord injuries cost the nation at least $9.7 billion per year for medical care, equipment and disability support. Trauma and rehabilitation costs alone are almost $250,000 for each spinal cord injured person. Additional lifetime costs incurred by SCI individuals average $400,000 and can reach as high as $2.1 million depending on the level of injury.

Like other terrible diseases and injuries, the emotional cost to SCI victims and their families cannot be quantified.

The Potential for Stem Cell Cures and Therapies

Various studies show that stem cells could be used to repair and regrow spinal cord nerve cells – and potentially allow SCI victims to someday walk again. For example, researchers at UC Irvine recently used pluripotent stem cells to repair the injured spinal cords of paralyzed mice. After nine weeks, the rats regained the ability to walk.

Much additional research is needed to turn the hope for stem cell cures for SCI into reality. But the potential is clear.

That is why many families who have members suffering from spinal cord injuries and groups like the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and the Paralysis Project of America strongly support stem cell research – and have endorsed the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.


The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation
- http://www.christopherreeve.org

Spinal Cord Injury Information Network
- http://www.spinalcord.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=21492

"Stem Cells Graft in Spinal Cord, Restore Movement In Paralyzed Mice" ScienceDaily.com
- http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001106061038.htm

"Human Stem Cells Help Paralyzed Rats, Mice to Walk."   Morton Cure Paralysis Fund - http://www.mcpf.org/displayarticle.asp?articleId=183

"Stem Cell Transplants Help Repair Spinal Cord Injuries in Rats."   WebMD.com
- http://my.webmd.com/content/article/20/1728_52645

"UCSD Researchers Use Gene Therapy To Promote Recovery From Spinal Cord Injuries."   ScienceDaily.com
- http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970716025152.htm

"Mouse's Tail of Stem Cell Success."   Wired Magazine
- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,50951,00.html

The Reeve-Irvine Research Center
- http://www.reeve.uci.edu/infodev.html

The Burnham Institute
- http://www.burnham-inst.org/FacultyAndResearch/HealthRelatedResearch/SpinalCordInjury.asp

Supporting Data for Teng. et. al. (February 26, 2002) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA v.99 n.5: 3024-3029.
- http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/052678899/DC1/1

"From Blood into Brain: Nerve-like Cells from Bone Marrow."   The Burnham Institute
- http://www.burnham.org/newsandinformation/news/11%2D30%2D2000.asp

"Therapeutic Uses Of Stem Cells For Spinal Cord Injuries: A New Hope."
- http://www.namiscc.org/newsletters/December01/SCI-stem-cell-research.htm

Publications Demonstrating Proof-of-Concept for Stem Cell Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury

- McDonald JW. Choi DW. Transplanted embryonic stem cells survive, differentiate and promote recovery in injured rat spinal cord. Nature Medicine (1999) 5: 1410-1412

- Teng YD. Functional recovery following traumatic spinal cord injury mediated by a unique polymer scaffold seeded with neural stem cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2002) 99: 3024-3029

- Pearse DD. cAMP and Schwann cells promote axonal growth and functional recovery after spinal cord injury. Nature Medicine (2004) 10: 610-616





Paid for by YES on 71: Coalition for Stem Cell Research and Cures, #1260661
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