Brain and spinal injuries physically damage nerve cells. They can also prevent nerve cells from receiving blood, resulting in cell death, in addition to the damage nerve cells suffer from injury-related trauma. Even after an accident, damage can spread to surrounding tissue, making things worse with time. These changes can cause a variety of symptoms including paralysis, compromised speech, and emotional and memory problems. Scientists are actively searching for new ways to keep cells alive in damaged environments, prompt the brain and spinal cord to generate new cells, and create better rehabilitation programs to help the millions worldwide living with neurological injuries.
While advances in imaging technology have enabled physicians to pinpoint injury locations faster, molecular and cellular tools are helping scientists identify chemicals that can protect the brain and spinal cord from further damage. Ongoing research aims to reawaken brain circuits silenced by stroke or injury and drive the creation of new ones.