Dr. Eric Potts – Ascension St. Vincent

Dr. Eric Potts, director of neurosurgery
Ascension St. Vincent

What advancements are coming in treating spinal cord injuries?

As the population of our country ages, the rate of spinal injuries is going to increase. We are seeing more patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries, meaning that they have some preserved function below the spot of the injury. However, if a patient comes in with a very bad fracture-dislocation in the spine, that’s a problem because the recovery is not fantastic. Yet even here, there is hope. If you look at the exciting research being done with brain–machine interfaces, patients will be able to interact with the world much more easily. They’re still in trials but are being developed to help patients live a slightly more normal life. Additionally, you have current trials that are performing epidural spinal cord stimulations with people who are paralyzed yet starting to be able to move their limbs again. While all of this is still firmly in the trial-and-research phase, the future of recovery for patients with spinal cord injuries is looking bright. And I have to add that the best things you can do to prevent spinal cord injuries in the first place are to wear a seatbelt in your car and stay physically fit.