Statistics demonstrate that traumatic events, particularly motor vehicle accidents, are the most common cause of injuries to the brain and spinal cord. These injuries are among the most devastating a person can sustain. They are always serious, invariably life-altering, and usually permanent.

Brain injury, by its very definition, affects the core of a person. It is the very organ which makes us who we are. The spinal cord is no less vital, providing the link between the brain and the body which allow one to move, feel, interact with our environment, and enjoy an autonomous life. Persons who suffer injuries to these organs are usually left a shadow of the person they once were. Often unable to work, their lives irrevocably changed — along with those of their spouse and loved ones.

Unfortunately, there is little which can be done presently to help victims of brain and spinal cord injury, frequently forcing them to turn to the legal system to assist with the overwhelming and life-long burden of their injuries.

There is, however, new reason for hope. Stem cell research, while controversial, is of incredible importance to the treatment of brain and spinal cord injuries. The impact of politics has limited such research in the United States, but other nations are pressing forward.

For instance, a recent C $2.3 million grant to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary, Alberta, Canada has provided a significant boost to stem cell research offering hope to victims of spinal cord injury. The institute has reported success in recent research which targets repair and redirection of damaged nerves.

If successful, this research could mean a huge advance in the treatment of spinal cord injury. In addition to providing direct funding, the grant will allow the institute an opportunity to draw top scientists in an effort to push this internationally important work forward.

Work on spinal cord injuries is also being conducted in Australia, where the Queensland-Canada Spinal Cord Injury Alliance recently reported an AU $1 million grant being used to improve the quality of care for spinal cord injury by tracking and monitoring the progress of patients. This work may not garner headlines like stem cell research, but remains a vital resource for understanding these devastating injuries.

Injuries to the brain and spinal cord can happen to anyone. Due to the strong link between such injury and traumatic accidents, I would encourage all reading this to act pro-actively to protect yourself and your loved ones by carrying “no-limitation” auto insurance coverage. And if you or anyone you know has suffered a brain or spinal cord injury in a traumatic accident, seek the advice and guidance of an experienced legal expert.

Mark W. Davis, is a shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Group. For additional information, please contact Mr. Davis at mdavis@stark-stark.com. Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville, 609-896-9060. www.stark-stark.com.

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