Systemic Hypothermia for the Treatment of Acute Cervical Spinal Cord Injury in Sports

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Spinal cord injury is a devastating condition that affects approximately 12,000 patients each year in the United States. Major causes for spinal cord injury include motor vehicle accidents, sports-related injuries, and direct trauma. Moderate hypothermia has gained attention as a potential therapy due to recent experimental and clinical studies and the use of modest systemic hypothermia (MSH) in high profile case of spinal cord injury in a National Football League (NFL) player. In experimental models of spinal cord injury, moderate hypothermia has been shown to improve functional recovery and reduce overall structural damage. In a recent Phase I clinical trial, systemic hypothermia has been shown to be safe and provide some encouraging results in terms of functional recovery. This review will summarize recent preclinical data, as well as clinical findings that support the continued investigations for the use of hypothermia in severe cervical spinal cord injury.

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