The clinical trial below was introduced to Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog by a reader whose son became paralyzed after an accident. We are grateful to her for alerting us and we sincerely hope this amazing study will be beneficial to both humans and canines.
Frazier the French Bulldog had a spinal injury that left him unable to use his hind legs. He is one of the participants that travel from their hometowns to Iowa State University every few months to participate in an exciting clinical trial that hopes to find out if a new medication called Chondroitinase might help him walk again. The study is still in need of participants.
Dr. Nick Jeffery and Dr. Hilary Hu are conducting this promising clinical trial. They report on their Facebook page that spinal cord injuries are one of the most common neurological conditions in veterinary medicine and one of the most devastating for owners and their pets.
A spinal cord injury disconnects the brain from properly communicating with other parts of the body, like the legs, bladder and bowels. Dogs with these injuries are left paralyzed and incontinent.
Much of this disconnect in communication happens because scar tissue forms in the area after an injury. Chondroitinase appears to dissolve some of that scar tissue. Hopefully it will then allow the nerve fibers to “grow and reconnect to restore communication.”
The clinical trial will work like this:
- Chondroitinase will be injected into the spinal cord of 50 percent of the dogs enrolled in the study.
- 100 percent of the dogs will receive physical therapy during the one week period when they return to Iowa State University for follow-up exams. It is thought that Chondroitinase has a synergistic effect with physical therapy.
- Dogs will receive follow-up exams after one month, three months and six months of entering the program.
- Eligible dogs will have a severe injury to the middle of their back. They must be no more than 45 lbs. and be unable to walk without help. Their spinal injuries must have occurred at least six weeks prior and they must not have any other medical condition. Dogs must be able to be anesthetized.
- Dogs must be able to stay at the Iowa State University facility for one week for each follow up exam.
- At the time of the first exam special X-rays will be administered under anesthesia. At that time 50 percent of the dogs will also receive the Chondroitinase injection.
- Owners will find out if their dog has received the injection at the six month exam.
- In between exams owners and their dogs will be sent home with instructions about how to best work with their dog to encourage mobility and toileting.
Stakes are high for this study which is sponsored by the International Spinal Research Trust (ISRT), a nonprofit organization searching for new treatments for humans with spinal cord injuries. If the clinical trial proves beneficial for dogs, the next trial will extend to people.
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