Does Spinal Injury Affect Immune System

Even people who have never experienced a spinal injury are aware of how devastating such an injury can be to the way one lives. The paralysis that often accompanies such an injury can make it difficult for the person affected to complete tasks that previously were simple. While in some situations, hard work, specialized equipment and modifications to one's residence can lead to some autonomy, getting to this point can take a long time and be expensive. The findings of a new study indicate spinal injuries can lead to additional repercussions as well.

The study, the results of which were published in the journal Brain, focused on the impact a spinal injury has on the immune system of the person living with it. Specifically researchers set out to determine whether in addition to the paralysis of limbs, a spinal injury could also result in a "paralysis" of the person's immune system. The study found that where pneumonia and other bacterial infections are concerned, it indeed did.

The study focused on mice with and without spinal cord injuries that were introduced to a controlled infection. Thirty-five per cent of the mice with spinal injuries were found to have completely cleared their lung of the inoculated bacteria, within a day of exposure. In contrast, eighty-six per cent of the mice in the control group were able to do so.

This information was then compared to data collected from spinal cord injury patients. That data mirrored the findings concerning the mice.

While the results of this study will not repair or improve a spinal injury, they could result in a better quality of life for spinal injury victims via the development of treatment strategies that effectively address related immune system issues.

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