Getting People Out of Wheelchairs

Since earliest times man has become ever more adept at destroying the spinal cord.  At some time in the 18th Dynasty, when the glittering empire of the Ramesside Pharaohs stretched from Sudan to Syria, an army doctor copied out what was already by then an ancient medical text.

Ancient Medical Text   Translation of Ancient Medical Text

Today individual spinal cord damage is caused less by swords, spears and war chariots and more by falls, road traffic accidents, swimming, diving, flying, knife wounds, gunshot, high explosives, tanks, and aircraft.  But the results are depressingly similar.  And despite the many other medical advances over the last century the description of Patient 31 and the gloomy prognosis remain accurate.  The spinal cord is delicate.  It is easy to damage, easy to damage and hard to repair.

Getting People Out of Wheelchairs

A Polish-UK collaboration on an historic development of immense potential benefit to mankind


A Polish neurosurgical team have made what they consider could be an historic breakthrough in treating spinal cord injury.  The procedure involves transplanting cells from the patient’s own body into the area of damage in the spinal cord.  The first patient treated as shown a degree of recovery of movement and feeling which has not been achieved before.

This work is based on a long-standing collaboration between Dr Tabakow and the team of Professor Raisman at the world famous Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, part of University College London.  The London team have developed this novel procedure at the scientific level in the laboratory.  The Wroclaw team is the first in the world to apply it to a patient in a way that satisfies the conditions observed in the experiments.

A major BBC Panorama programme will be broadcast on Tuesday, 21 Oct, at 22.35 (UK time) on BBC One and will then be available on BBC iPlayer for 12 months.

Two trusts in the UK ( and have supported the work in London and are now supporting continuation of the rehabilitation in Wroclaw.

Following the Panorama a major fundraising project will take place.  Its primary goal is to support the continuing neurosurgical work and rehabilitation in Wroclaw so as to confirm the conclusions in a further cohort of patients over the next 5 years.  The laboratory work in London will continue to explore improvements in the technology, and it is hoped to identify a second neurosurgical team in the UK.

Professor Raisman says:

“Years of research have led to the development of a safe technique for transplanting cells into the spinal cord. The first patient to receive his own OECs has shown amazing recovery.  I believe this is the first time that a patient has been able to regenerate severed long spinal nerve fibres across an injury and resume movement and feeling."

“I believe we have now opened the door to a treatment of spinal cord injury which will get patients out of wheel chairs.  Our goal now is to develop this first procedure to a point where it can be rolled out as a worldwide general approach."  

“I believe we stand on the threshold of a historic advance and that the continuation of our work will be of major benefit to mankind.”

Read all about it:

Mail on Sunday pt 1

Mail on Sunday pt 2

Sunday Times

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