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Research shows link between cortical plasticity and pain

Many Floridians suffer spinal cord injuries each year, and some experience either paraplegia or quadriplegia as a result. Recent research into people with paraplegia and quadriplegia demonstrates a link between suffering neuropathic pain and cortical plasticity.

Cortical plasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself when old pathways are damaged. This ability is key for people to have better outcomes following a spinal cord injury. Researchers at the Spinal Cord Injury Center of the University of Zurich studied 24 patients who had suffered spinal cord injuries and who had either complete or incomplete paraplegia or quadriplegia. For the control group, researchers used 31 people who were healthy.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers studied cortical activity in the brains of the participants while they completed a set of sensory activities. While there was no significant difference between overall brain activity in response to the tasks, there was a significant difference for where the activity peak was located. Patients who had both spinal cord injuries and who suffered from neuropathic pain with greater intensity showed scans that were much closer to those of the healthy individuals in the control group.

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating for people who suffer from them. They may have a permanent reduction in their quality of life and require a lifetime of round-the-clock care. Those who have received such an injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another person may wat to discuss with an attorney the advisability of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party seeking damages that could include future medical expenses, lost wages due to an inability to work and other applicable amounts.

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