One of our primary goals at Gluckstein Lawyers is to help people living with spinal cord injuries achieve independence and full participation in the community. We also understand the importance of breakthrough research in improving quality of life for people with disabilities.
Spinal cord patients in Ontario will be interested to learn that researchers in Denmark have made such a breakthrough.
Injury to the spinal column often results in paralysis. In many cases, however, patients suffer involuntary muscle spasms that severely impact quality of life.
At the University of Copenhagen, researchers have identified the neurotransmitter serotonin that causes involuntary muscle contractions -- or dyskinesia -- related to spinal cord injury. Specifically, after a serious injury has occurred, spinal cord cells begin supplying serotonin uncontrollably, which in turn causes uncontrolled contractions and spasms.
Jacob Wienecke, a neurophysiologist and associate professor familiar with the research, had this to say: "We now have a qualified idea of why the serotonin level goes out of control, and we have documented that a special serotonin-producing enzyme plays a key role."
Wienecke is referring to the enzyme aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). As an emergency response after a spinal cord injury, the enzyme causes uncontrolled serotonin production. Wienecke says that the researchers' findings could lead to the development of drugs that specifically target the AADC cells.
Current treatment of spinal column injuries involves drugs -- baclofen, for instance -- that suppress involuntary contractions. However, because it suppresses neural activity, baclofen also has an impact on motor learning and rehabilitation.
It is hoped that the researchers' discovery will lead to the development of new drugs that support rehabilitation while also mitigating involuntary contractions and spasms.
R E F E R E N C E S |
University of Copenhagen, "New research offers help for spinal cord patients," Sept. 4, 2014