Approaches to repairing the damaged spinal cord: Overview

Daniel Becker, John W. Mcdonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


Affecting young people during the most productive period of their lives, spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating problem for modern society. In the past, treating SCI seemed frustrating and hopeless because of the tremendous morbidity and mortality, life-shattering impact, and limited therapeutic options associated with the condition. Today, however, an understanding of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms, the development of neuroprotective interventions, and progress toward regenerative interventions are increasing hope for functional restoration.In this chapter, we provide an overview of various repair strategies for the injured spinal cord. Special attention will be paid to strategies that promote spontaneous regeneration, including functional electrical stimulation, cell replacement, neuroprotection, and remyelination. The concept that limited rebuilding can provide a disproportionate improvement in quality of life is emphasized throughout. New surgical procedures, pharmacological treatments, and functional neuromuscular stimulation methods have evolved over the last decades and can improve functional outcomes after spinal cord injury; however, limiting secondary injury remains the primary goal. Tissue replacement strategies, including the use of embryonic stem cells, become an important tool and can restore function in animal models. Controlled clinical trials are now required to confirm these observations. The ultimate goal is to harness the body's own potential to replace lost central nervous system cells by activation of endogenous progenitor cell repair mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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