Walk Again After Severing The Spinal Cord?

Advances in medicine have almost always been adopted very slowly — in my opinion, mainly because of the phenomenon of group think, and a reluctance to entertain the idea that what we have previously thought was best for patients could be wrong. Probably the most widespread current example of this in my opinion is the idea that cholesterol is bad and that it should be lowered with statins.

Some of the most famous instances of misguided medicine include the rejection of Ignaz Semmelweis’ idea that washing one’s hands before delivering a baby would reduce the incidence of post-partum infection of the uterus, which killed untold numbers of women; he was mocked and viciously attacked, despite proving that the infection rate among his patients was drastically lower than that of  his peers. It wasn’t until long after his death that his ideas were accepted, despite clear evidence he was right for years before.

More recently, Barry Marshall was an Australian gastroenterologist who was ridiculed in the 1980s for suggesting that H. Pylori, a bacteria, could be responsible for peptic ulcer disease. No one believed that a bacteria could survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. It was only after he deliberately infected himself by swallowing a solution of the bacteria that his ideas were accepted, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2005.

The list goes on and on.

I came across this article Surgeon Repairs Spinal Cord With Omentum recently and it reminded me of this phenomenon. Per the article, no one appears to have any interest in trying this technique, even though animal studies suggest very significant healing of the cord in animals who have fresh injuries.

If you know anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury, you may want to pass this along.

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