Among the most severe type of disability that you could sustain from a car accident is paralysis. A spinal cord injury caused by a car wreck can take away a victim’s ability to move their limbs. Everyday tasks that you used to do without thinking about it, such as dressing or feeding yourself, could become impossible.

Researchers have searched for a cure for paralysis for years. A team of scientists at the University of California – Los Angeles recently received a $6 million grant to further their research on reversing the effects of spinal cord injuries.

Specifically, the UCLA researchers hope to help paralysis patients regain the use of their hands. They are exploring whether electrical stimulation of the spinal cord might help. The belief is that electric pulses can help restart dormant pathways and allow the brain to regain a connection.

The scientists are also going to explore whether a depression drug may be beneficial for regaining range of motion. The drugs being studied are called serotonergic agonists. These medications increase the amount of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is used in one way that nerve cells communicate. So increased serotonin may stimulate new communication pathways, the researchers believe.

We hope that this research leads to a promising treatment someday. In the meantime, someone who is paralyzed in a car accident may face a major life change. He or she may no longer be able to work, and will likely have to deal with expensive medical procedures and therapies. A negligent driver who causes someone else a spinal cord injury should be held responsible for his or her actions.

Source: UCLA Newsroom, “UCLA scientists awarded $6 million to study new ways to restore hand movement after paralysis,” Elaine Schmidt, Feb. 6, 2014