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Magnesium Improves Function After Spinal Cord Injury

Improves motor function and spares white matter

MONDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Magnesium treatment shortly after spinal cord injury in rats improves motor function and spares white matter, according to study findings published in the April issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

Diana Barrett Wiseman, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues generated a moderate-to-severe spinal cord injury in rats, then treated them with saline, magnesium, methylprednisolone, or magnesium plus methylprednisolone within 10 minutes of injury.

After four weeks, the researchers found that motor function, as assessed by the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan motor score, recovered better in rats treated with magnesium compared with saline. Motor function improved significantly more in rats treated within eight hours of injury compared with rats treated 12 to 24 hours after injury. All three treatments were effective in white matter sparing but had no significant effect on the myelin index. Few firm conclusions could be drawn regarding methylprednisolone treatment due to severe weight loss, the authors note.

"Administration of magnesium immediately after spinal cord injury has resulted in promising longer-term neurological as well as histological outcomes in treated animals compared with controls," Wiseman and colleagues conclude.

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