Friday, October 26, 2007
Medical Reports: Spinal Injuries
Each year about 11,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury in the U.S. Researchers say recovery may depend on what happens in the first days after an injury, but, in today's Healthcast, we'll show you how a new drug may offer some big hope for those expecting the worst.
WSVN -- Two years ago, 19-year-old Jonathen Picco's life changed forever when he fell through a roof doing construction.
Jonathen Picco: "After my operation, they said that I wouldn't be able to walk again."
Doctors thought Jonathen would never sit up again, but, during surgery, he received a drug never before tested on humans.
Dr. Michael Fehling: "We can actually potentially repair and regenerate the injured nervous system."
Doctor Michael Fehling is studying Cethrin, the drug given to Jonathen during surgery.
Dr. Michael Fehling: "We apply Cethrin to the injured spinal cord directly."
The purpose of the drug is to block the pathway that prevents nerve cells from regenerating. In a study of 37 patients with severe injuries, one third had a significant recovery, and one in five had a major recovery, but, Dr. Fehling cautions.
Dr. Michael Fehling: "In my own clinical experience, this type of recovery is very unusual."
A significant recovery can give patients the ability to grip a jar or even transfer themselves from a chair to a bed.
Dr. Michael Fehling: "In some patients, it might even mean that they could recover the ability to walk."
Jonathen can now pull himself to a standing position, and, using a walker, he actually walks three days a week in rehab.
Jonathen Picco: "Each day I'm doing a little more, like taking a few more steps."
But this teen credits more than the drug for his recovery.
Jonathen Picco: "A lot of everything in the world is mind over matter. Mind power is the biggest power of them all."
Once Jonathen conquers walking, he says his big dream is to play sled hockey in the Olympics. A dream that now may be just within reach.
Christine Cruz: "The drug, Cethrin, is still in trial stages throughout the United States and Canada and is only being studied in people who have spinal cord injuries."