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Can Paralyzed Pets Help Paralyzed Vets?

Scientists Hope Therapies That Work In Dogs Might Also Work In Humans

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Could paralyzed dogs hold the clues to helping people with spinal cord injuries? New research on the subject is looking promising.

Paralyzed pooches could be the key to a breakthrough treatment for paralyzed veterans. The hope is that therapies that work in dogs might also be more likely to work in humans.

That’s welcome news to veteran Glendon Bentley who has been paralyzed since 1996.

“I was in the process of unloading an 1,100 pound crate from the back of the truck when the wind caught it just right and the crate fell out of the truck,” he said.

Bentley said any progress would bring vets like him hope.

“Anything to improve the quality of life that would be the best,” he said.

The Department of Defense agrees. That’s why it’s now funding research at Texas A&M, where scientists are testing a drug that would block enzymes that do damage to the spinal cord.

“Hopefully, that is going to lead to is better mobility, better ability to empty the bladder and that is going to be beneficial of course to dogs, and hopefully that can be scaled up to humans as well,” said Jonathan Levine, an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Texas A&M.

“If this works and actually rejuvenates some of the spinal cord nerve endings, it could alleviate some of that pain and possibly allow them to go from a wheelchair to a walker or leg braces and that would be phenomenal,” Bentley said.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, it’s estimated that close to 273,000 Americans are living with a spinal cord injury.

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