The role of therapeutic hypothermia in acute spinal cord injury
Ancient Egyptians were the first to use therapeutic hypothermia; thus, it is not a new concept. The term “hypothermia” is defined as a core temperature < 35° C (95° F). A spinal cord injury (SCI) is considered as one of the most significant injuries someone can endure since damage to just a small area of the body could implicate multiple body systems. A wide range of different mechanisms leading to tissue damage in the cord could cause injury.
Various early clinical SCI studies have investigated therapeutic hypothermia as a treatment strategy and have shown that if applied according to certain optimized parameters, the clinical use of hypothermia is most successful. Such parameters are temperature, time from injury to initiation of cooling, and rewarming time. Both local hypothermia and systemic hypothermia could be beneficial for acute SCI according to experimental evidence and some clinical evidence. The underlying mechanisms by which small reductions in central nervous system temperature can improve outcomes in brain and spinal cord injury models are still under investigation.
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