While I make my living as a trial attorney handling personal injury liability cases for people who have been seriously injured, I am also deeply interested in scientific advances that improve their prospects for productive lives of high quality.
Traumatic spinal cord injuries leading to quadriplegia and paraplegia are among the most devastating of all physical injuries. The full scope of problems associated with those conditions — pressure sores, spasticity, autonomic dysreflexia, lack of bowel and bladder control, etc. — is unknown and virtually unimaginable to anyone who has not dealt directly with those conditions.
New advances in stem cell and nanotechnology research appear to offer hope in the long term. However, they are a long way from producing treatments approved by the FDA, clinically available in the US and paid for by health insurance. Stem cell studies with lab animals have produced exciting reports, and every few weeks I see hopeful reports about the prospect of using stem cells from olfactory nerve, umbilical cord blood, spleen or bone marrow.
There is a lot of hype about the promise of stem cell therapies, and we read of patients traveling to Portugal, China, Thailand or Mexico for cutting edge treatments, the efficacy and safety of which have not yet been proven to the satisfaction of US authorities.
A few web sites that offer insights into the current state of stem cell research are:
- Harvard Stem Cell Institute
- Stem Cell Challenges in Biology and Public Policy by Douglas Melton
- Understanding Stem Cells: An Overview of the Science and Issues from the National Academy of Science
- National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Information
- Stem Cell Research and Applications
- Stem Cells in Biomedicine
- International Society for Stem Cell Research
- Stem Cell Books
- Embryonic Stem Cell Basics
- Tell Me About Stem Cells
I’m not a physician and cannot give medical advice. In representing victims of catastrophic injury, however, we try to look ahead to the possibilities for improving the quality and quantity of life if sufficient financial resources are made available.