Spinal cord injury: Promising interventions and realistic goals

John W. McDonald, Daniel Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Long regarded as impossible, spinal cord repair is approaching the realm of reality as efforts to bridge the gap between bench and bedside point to novel approaches to treatment. It is important to recognize that the research playing field is rapidly changing and that new mechanisms of resource development are required to effectively make the transition from basic science discoveries to effective clinical treatments. This article reviews recent laboratory studies and phase 1 clinical trials in neural and nonneural cell transplantation, stressing that the transition from basic science to clinical applications requires a parallel rather than serial approach, with continuous, two-way feedback to most efficiently translate basic science findings, through evaluation and optimization, to clinical treatments. An example of mobilizing endogenous stem cells for repair is reviewed, with emphasis on the rapid application of basic science to clinical therapy. Successful and efficient transition from basic science to clinical applications requires (1) a parallel rather than a serial approach; (2) development of centers that integrate three spheres of science, translational, transitional, and clinical trials; and (3) development of novel resources to fund the most critically limited step of transitional to clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S38-S49
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Activity-Dependent Plasticity
  • Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Functional Electrical Stimulation
  • Patterned Neural Activity
  • Remyelination
  • Repair, Rehabilitation
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Spinal Cord Transplantation
  • Stem Cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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