New Hope for Spinal Cord Injuries
08/07/2010

Stem cell treatments offer hope to the previously hopeless

Online PR News – 07-August-2010 – – Woodland Hills, CA, August 6, 2010 – Catastrophic injury attorney Robert A. Brenner sees a great deal of tragedy in his chosen line of work. “It can get you down,” says Mr. Brenner, “the initial crippling injury, followed by a sometimes unnecessary struggle to get an insurance company to meet their obligations. But there might be some hope here.”

Mr. Brenner is referring to a report that a California company, Genron, will begin clinical trials on using stem cells to repair spinal cord injuries. The study was authorized a year ago, but is now moving forward with human trials.

“Stem cell treatments offer hope to the previously hopeless,” said Mr. Brenner. “Unfortunately, this may be just the first of many hurdles before any therapy will be available to my clients.”

Mr. Brenner points out that experimental procedures are not usually covered under insurance policies and that when a treatment is expensive, insurance companies may try to deny a claim or make a counter-claim that the therapy is not appropriate. “They will get physicians to testify that a procedure isn’t going to work, or that a patient has some other condition that excludes them.”

FDA approval is a critical step, according to Mr. Brenner. When a treatment has been approved, and especially if it is covered by Medicare, it is far more likely insurance companies can be forced to pay for it. He expects the next steps will be to use stem cells, if they are found to be helpful, on the many spinal trauma cases coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This study might open a lot of doors; doors that have been closed until now for paraplegic and quadriplegic patients. They’ve been afraid to hope. Their families have been afraid to hope. I’d like to see that change.”

With more than a 250,000 Americans with spinal cord injuries, and 11,000 new cases every year, any useful therapy will have a large impact. The average lifetime cost for paralyzing spinal cord injuries (at age 25) ranges from $400,000 up to $1.35 million. First year expenses for paraplegics run about $150,000 and for quadriplegics, $400,000. [Statistics from SCI-Info)

Adult stem cells have not been shown to help in the repair of spinal cord injury. This new study uses the more controversial embryonic stem cells. Genron was unable to move forward until they obtained permission from the new administration which has relaxed rules on stem cell research.
Robert Brenner is an injury attorney based in California who practices nationwide in the area of catastrophic injury. He can be reached through his website: http://www.attorneyrobertbrenner.com

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