Science Advances in Spinal Cord Injury
FOR THE 400‚000 Americans with spinal cord injuries‚ the national scientists who came together on UMDNJ's Newark campus on May 9 to share their expertise had a message: We are working to translate science into hope.
Researchers from California‚ Ohio and Connecticut joined scientists from New Jersey Medical School and the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation to explore current advances to help individuals suffering the long-term‚ life-changing effects of spinal cord injury. The symposium was sponsored by the Reynolds Family Spine Laboratory at the Spine Center of New Jersey at NJMS.
The speakers presented the latest findings in areas ranging from the essential functions of the glial scar to stem cell strategies for repairing the damaged spinal cord to activity–based restoration therapies.
"Everything I'm seeing here is completely different than what I learned as a medical student 25 years ago‚" notes Robert Heary‚ MD‚ professor of neurological surgery at NJMS and director of the Spine Center. He is also co–director with Stella Elkabes‚ PhD‚ associate professor of neurological surgery at the medical school‚ of the Reynolds Family Spine Laboratory. The two have brought to their laboratory the combination of "a bench person and a clinician‚" according to Heary‚ which facilitates the translation of research into new therapies.
One of the symposium presenters‚ Steven
Kirshblum‚ MD‚ medical director of the Kessler
Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange‚
discussed new frontiers in rehabilitation research.
Kirshblum‚ who is also a professor of rehabilitation
medicine at NJMS‚ is nationally recognized for his
work in the area of spinal cord injury rehabilitation
and research. He shared some of the work involving
electrical stimulus implants that would allow
patients to sit up‚ move their toes‚ and improve
bladder and sexual function. "The goal is to
eventually translate to human mobility‚" Kirshblum
explains‚ "and to a better quality of life." He adds‚
"We've seen mice and cats do it in the lab‚ now we
want to see humans do it."
— Barbara Hurley