Stages of Spinal Cord Injury Research

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(THIS WAS AN INFORMATIVE SPEECH I DID FOR MY COM220 CLASS ON THE STAGES OF SPINAL CORD INJURY RESEARCH. IT ACTED AS AN INTRODUCTION TO MY PERSUASIVE SPEECH ON THE BENEFITS OF STEM CELL RESEARCH)

There are about a quarter of a million people in the United States living with spinal cord injuries. In addition, between 7,600 and 10,000 new injuries occur each year. Nearly half of these new injuries will occur in young people between the ages of 16 and 30. As a person in this category, I have become very interested in the research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and hope to share some of the information I found with you today. In order for you to fully understand the details I will be sharing with you, I'd like to begin with a general overview of the spinal cord before moving on to the three stages of research I will cover: past research which has lead to present treatments, recent research, and the present and future research.

The spinal cord is basically a bundle of nerves which runs from the base of the brain to the middle of the waist. It is the core of the spinal column and carries nerve impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. When this soft, jelly-like cord is injured, severe effects are felt on the body. The spinal cord can be bruised, damaged, or severed, each resulting in different degrees of injury. In this illustration we see an example of a slipped disk. A slipped disk most often results in severe and sometimes disabling pain and can be treated by painkillers, bed rest, or surgery. While definitely not a minor ailment, the severity of a slipped disk is not very high since the spinal cord is left intact and therefor there is no nerve damage. However, more serious consequences occur when the spinal cord is damaged or severed. This can happen from traumas or diseases, and since we have a limited time, I will focus only on the traumatic causes. The largest contributor to traumatic spinal cord injuries is vehicular...
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