In this health video learn how each year, 11,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury. Now there's a new drug that could improve a patient's recovery.
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Jennifer Matthews: Two years ago, 19-year-old, Johnathan Picco fell through a roof doing construction. Johnathan Picco: After my operation, they said that I wouldn’t be able to walk again. Jennifer Matthews: Doctors thought Johnathan wouldn’t even be able to sit up again. But during surgery, he got a drug never before tested on humans. Dr. Michael Fehlings: We can actually potentially repair and regenerate the injured nervous system. Jennifer Matthews: Dr. Michael Fehlings is studying Cethrin, a drug given during surgery. Dr. Michael Fehlings: We apply the Cethrin to the injured spinal cord directly. Jennifer Matthews: It blocks the pathway that prevents nerve cells from regenerating. In a study of 37 patients with severe injuries, one-third had a significant recovery. One in five had a major recovery. Dr. Michael Fehlings: In my own clinical experience, this type of recovery is very unusual. Jennifer Matthews: Significant recovery can give patients the ability to grip a jar or transfer themselves from a chair to a bed. Dr. Michael Fehlings: In some patients, it might even mean that they could recover the ability to walk. Jennifer Matthews: Johnathan can pull himself to a standing position and using a walker, he actually walks three days a week in rehab. Johnathan Picco: Each day I am doing a little bit more, like taking a few more steps. Jennifer Matthews: He credits more than the drug for his recovery. Johnathan Picco: A lot of everything in the world is mind over matter. So mind power is the biggest power of them all, I guess. Jennifer Matthews: His next goal to play sledge hockey in the Olympics. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.