Spinal cord injuries can cause severe pain and even loss of movement in both people and pets. Sleuth the Reporter Dog checked with his friends at the Veterinary News Network and found that some exciting new veterinary research may provide new hope for these types of injuries!
1) More than 12,000 people experience spinal cord injuries each year. It’s unknown how many pets also suffer similar types of life-altering injuries.
2) Dogs and cats can experience spinal cord trauma through accidents, such as falling, being caught in a door or even being hit by a car. Our pets can also be afflicted with prolapsed or bulging discs in the spine.
3) Anything that puts pressure on the spinal cord or causes trauma or tearing is truly an emergency situation.
4) When these situations occur, both human and veterinary medicine focus on attempts to block biochemical pathways in order to save mobility. Sadly, these treatments are often unsuccessful.
5) When loss of movement or sensation is complete, the person will spend their life in a wheelchair but many pets are euthanized. Pet owners often are unable to deal with the extra care or costs of a pet who is unable to walk.
6) New research being done at a veterinary school is focusing on how best to stop the on-going damage that happens to cells after a spinal injury. It is hoped that a new drug may be able to block enzymes that cause damage and save mobility in people and pets.
7) This is very important to members of our military…many soldiers are wounded while in war zones and suffer these sorts of injuries.
8) If you note any traumatic event that keeps your pet from walking OR if you see your pet slowly losing the ability to balance or walk, an exam by a veterinarian is immediately needed.
9) Spinal cord injuries are emergencies; they can be very painful and have the potential to cause lifelong paralysis. Don’t wait…see your veterinarian right away!
10) Trust a site like MyVNN.com to provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.
Spinal Cord Injuries – Veterinary Research Helping People and Pets
Trauma to the spinal cord is a serious, often fatal injury in people and pets. Damage to the cord by fractures of the vertebrae or swelling can often lead to pain and weakness and even partial or complete loss of movement or sensation. These situations are medical emergencies! Interesting new research is now showing promise and the hero of the research may be a family pet!
By: Dr. Jim Humphries, Certified Veterinary Journalist, Veterinary News Network
Experts estimate that more than 12,000 spinal cord injuries (SCI) occur every year in people and that more than a quarter of a million Americans are now living with some form of SCI. These injuries are not limited to humans, but happen frequently in our pets as well.
In people, damage to the spine often occurs due to a traumatic event, such as a car accidents, severe falls or even sports activities. Such injuries happen most often to younger men.
In dogs, not only are there a variety of accidents that cause SCI, but many breeds of dogs, can develop a bulging or full prolapse of the discs that are located between the vertebrae. This bulge puts damaging pressure on the spinal cord, causing pain and even paralysis. Any sort of pressure, trauma or tearing of the spinal cord is truly an emergency situation.
In both human and veterinary medicine new treatments are focused in an attempt to block certain biochemical pathways after injury to save mobility. But, until now, many of these treatments have been unsuccessful. Consequently, the human may spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair while many pets are euthanized due to costs or the owner’s inability to care for a pet who is unable to walk.
Dr. Jonathon Levine, a veterinarian and resident in neurology at Texas A & M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine says “about 3% of all hospitalized cases in veterinary medicine were due to disc related spinal cord injuries.” In certain breeds, especially dachshunds and other long bodied, short legged dogs, the incidence of SCI due to disc problems approaches 25%.
In some situations, especially traumatic events, like a dog being struck by a car, the onset is sudden and easily recognizable. But in other cases, the signs are much more subtle. Dogs with slow developing disc problems often show weakness in the limbs, abnormal gait, incoordination and pain across the back. Without treatment, these pets may eventually lose the ability to walk.
New advances in diagnostic technology, including increased availability of even more powerful MRI units for pets, have enabled veterinarians to more accurately pinpoint the cause of spinal injuries. But, the fact still remains that far too many dogs and people suffering lasting serious consequences, from spinal cord injuries.
In conjunction with the University of California Medical School, Dr. Levine and the team at Texas A & M are exploring a new drug that may protect the nervous system after spinal cord injury. Certain enzymes in the nervous system can actually destroy vital components of the blood-spinal cord barrier and of myelin, the protective covering over nerves. This current research looks at a new compound that may block these destructive enzymes. “We are hoping that this new drug will protect the nervous system shortly after injury, improve the outcome and help more dogs walk in these cases.” says Levine.
The importance of this study cannot be overstated. This is the first veterinary clinical trial that has been funded by the National Institutes of Health. In addition, because of the potential benefits to both dogs and people, the Department of Defense has also provided grant money to continue the research. Many of the quarter of a million people living with spinal cord injuries are soldiers wounded while in war zones.
Pet owners, especially those with specific breeds prone to back problems need to be aware of the subtitle signs of potential problems. A veterinarian should see any dog that cries out during play, has difficulty navigating stairs or that has any sort of uncoordinated gait. Pets that are overweight are more prone to spinal issues, so keeping your pet trim is one way to minimize the risks. In some cases, owners may receive a referral to a veterinary neurologist or surgeon for advanced care.
Keep up to date with all of the latest in animal health news and the latest in veterinary technology at www.MyVNN.com and www.VetNewsOnline.com.