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Letters to the Editor

Hope for spinal cord injuries

| Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month and I hope this letter will increase the recognition of this devastating condition to your readers.

A spinal cord injury can result in complete muscle paralysis, loss of sensation and bladder function and numerous complications in daily living. Dealing with this prognosis can be overwhelming to many individuals who feel there is no chance to ever again live a normal life. There is no cure for this type of injury, as spinal cord cells do not regenerate or heal.

I have been living as a quadriplegic for 35 years after being involved in a sports accident as a teenager. It has always been my hope that research would find a way for a human spinal cord to heal and allow for the 1.25 million Americans living with a spinal cord injury to return to a normal life. Although I recognize that a cure will probably never come in my lifetime, I am optimistic that this condition can be reversed.

Sadly, every 48 minutes another person will become paralyzed. This is simply unacceptable.

Scientists are closer than ever to finding the cure. The FDA has approved the world's only Phase 1 Human Clinical Trial testing cellular therapy using Schwann cells on people with spinal cord injury. The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is leading this groundbreaking research and has operated on its first patients. Once thought impossible, a cure for paralysis is on the horizon.

During this month, I hope people will recognize the struggles that those who are paralyzed confront on a daily basis and consider donating to organizations that will allow millions with spinal cord injuries to eventually live normal lives and walk again.

Brian Jacob

Lower Burrell

The writer is the president of WestArm Therapy Services, based in Lower Burrell.

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