Effects that stress has on injury
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A spinal cord injury dramatically changes your life in seconds. Patients experience neurological impairment and often neuropathic pain. Without doubt, this creates intense psychological stress.
Stress extends the damage after SCI
It is known that stress can affect the structure and function of neurons. Philip G. Popovich and his team at the Ohio State University (USA) have recently found out that stress can exacerbate inflammation and the rate at which spinal neurons are destroyed – regardless if whether the stress is short-term or long-term. Unpublished data from the team indicates that stress can also impair spontaneous recovery of locomotion after spinal cord injury.
Further work ahead
Other studies have shown that stress releases certain molecules (glucocorticoids). These molecules in turn increase the vulnerability of neurons. In response to this the team blocked the effect of glucocorticoids, but the results were inconclusive and a limiting effect of stress could not be observed. Such results can be explained by the fact that stress affects numerous ways that are independent of the glucocorticoids.
Pharmacological treatments are needed in order to reduce the negative effects of stress. Dr. Popovich and his team are continuing their work to explore further solutions.
You can find the Dr. Popovich’s publication at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159115001592