Japanese researchers have successfully used stem cells derived from tooth pulp to treat damaged spinal cord cells.
The research has been conducted on rats, and clinical trials on humans are still a long way off, but the results have been encouraging enough for researchers to be optimistic about the results in humans, too.
The stem cells were extracted from tooth pulp, and injected into rats that had spinal cord injury. The rats showed remarkable progress in walking unaided about five weeks after they were injected with the stem cells.
This study is the latest in a series of trials into the treatment of spinal cord injury that have had varying degrees of success. For instance, another trial earlier this year used electrical stimulation of the spinal cord to enable a man, who had been left paralyzed after a spinal cord injury, to walk unaided.
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most devastating injuries that maritime workers suffer. Most spinal cord injuries that maritime lawyers come across occur when a worker falls from an elevation on a vessel or rig. Workers can fall from platforms when there are no guard rails, or when they are working in a shipyard without adequate fall protection. There may be falls from ladders that are defective or broken, and falls on commercial fishing vessel decks made slippery by a mix of fish gurry and water.
There is no complete treatment for spinal cord injury, and an injured maritime worker will require extensive rehabilitation and therapy. Besides, spinal cord injuries are also linked to a degeneration of the spine in the future, increasing medical complications for a victim.