Spinal cord injuries can be devastating to the more than 17,000 Americans who suffer them each year. But many patients may have new reason for hope: Early research suggests infusions of stem cells could help them regain lost sensation and movement. These improvements may occur within days or weeks of receiving the stem cell therapy, and can last at least six months, according to the small study.

“This is exciting because there are really limited treatment options for patients with spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Griffin Baum, a spine surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the research. The 13 people in the study had injured, but not severed, their spinal cords. Many experienced loss of motor function and coordination and/or bowel and bladder dysfunction as a result of their injury.

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