Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 30, 2016
New research suggests that individuals with bladder problems after spinal cord injuries can find functional improvement with the aid of training and epidural stimulation.
People who have spinal cord injuries are often prone to bladder infections, which can lead to to kidney disease or even death. In an effort to understand how to improve bladder function after a severe spinal injury, researchers conducted a study with rats. For their study, researchers studied 10 paralyzed rats that underwent epidural stimulation and five rats that were untrained and did not receive stimulation. Researchers filled up each rat’s bladder with a saline solution and turned on the epidural stimulation device for those rats in the stimulation group.
Researchers found that epidural stimulation was found to enable the rats to empty their bladders more fully and within a timely manner than the rats that did not receive the stimulation.
“The big deal here is the immediate effect. There may be a way that when people have bladder problems, you can turn the stimulator on and they can release urine at will,” said study senior author V. Reggie Edgerto. “This strategy could have a major impact in improving the quality of life and longevity of human patients.”
Bladder Control After Spine Injuries
Edgerto’s team was pleased with the punctuality at which the stimulation device helped the rats empty their bladder. Rats were able to empty their bladder within 90 seconds of having it filled once the stimulation device was turn on. Edgerto credits the stimulation device with being able to activate some dormant pathways in the spinal cord.
“The circuitry in the spinal cord is remarkably resilient,” said Edgerto. “Once you get them up and active, many physiological systems that are intricately connected and that were dormant come back into play.”
We can add epidural stimulation to the growing list of treatment options for bladder problems after a spinal injury. Some other treatment options include:
- Intermittent catheterization
- Continuous catheter drainage
- Bladder reconstructive surgery
- Prescription medications
If you are having bladder control issues after a spine injury, talk with your spine surgeon sooner rather than later.