Friday, June 18, 2010

Purdue University Offers Hope For Paralyzed Dogs (And Humans)

With help from disabled dogs like Bo the Cocker Spaniel, the Purdue Center for Paralysis Research is pioneering new treatments and technology for humans and canines with spinal cord injuries. Over the past 15 years, the Center for Paralysis Research has been operating in partnership with with the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine in Indiana. During that time, they have conducted ground-breaking research with dozens of paralyzed dogs.

For instance, Dr. Richard Borgens has shown that spinal cord nerve fibers will grow when exposed to a steady, low-grade electrical field. This discovery has led to the application of electrical fields over the injury to the spinal cord using an implantable device called an Extraspinal Oscillating Field Stimulator (OFS).

Twiggy is a five year old Dachshund who experienced the sudden onset of hind limb paralysis due to vertebral disc herniation. As anyone who shares their home with a Dachshund knows, this is a terrifyingly common scenario; three years ago this July, the same thing happened out of the blue to our Greta.

Fortunately for Twiggy, she was able to receive treatment at Purdue and the implantation of an OFS allowed her to regain the use of her hind legs!

The Center for Paralysis Research has also had great success using Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) to restore nerve impulse conduction and recovery of sensory and motor functions dependent on those nerve impulses in dogs with severe spinal cord injuries. When PEG is injected directly into the site of the spinal injury within 48 hours, it can effectively form a sealing film across the breaks in the nerve fiber membranes. Consequently, PEG rescues the nerve processes from further degeneration, facilitating rapid recoveries in function after a spinal injury.

With such great results, it's easy to imagine that folks with paralyzed dogs would be flocking to Purdue for treatment. Unfortunately, they are not currently accepting any more dogs for clinical trials. The Center for Paralysis Research is still a great resource, however. Click here for their information about Intervetebral Disc Disease and tips on post-surgical home care.

1 comment:

Vicki T said...

This is *hugely* encouraging news. Thank you for this report.