MRI research presents hope for sufferers of major spinal cord injuries

A new MRI study has shown that around half of all people who have suffered a major spine injury still maintain sensory nerve connections.  

The research, which was conducted by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), The University of Sydney, and HammondCare, utilised functional spine injury MRIMRI (fMRI) scans to study the brains of spine injury patients while measuring sensations of touch on their feet.

The scientists concluded that 48 per cent of the participants’ brains registered touch – a stat that represents a potential breakthrough for people who have suffered an injury to their spine.

Most doctors previously believed that all communication to the brain is severed after a major spinal injury, but these results suggest that recovery could be possible.

In the UK, 40,000 people currently live with a spinal cord injury, according to the Back Up Trust. Each year, over 1,000 people are newly injured.

Most spinal cord injuries result from physical trauma due to car accidents, falls or sports injuries. Occasionally, they occur from nontraumatic causes like infection, insufficient blood flow or tumours.

An injury to the spine can result in major life changes: if the spinal cord is damaged, it could mean loss of movement in the legs, the torso and limbs and the loss of feeling in the lower body and some internal organs. For some, a spinal cord injury could mean they’ll never walk again – but this research could offer new hope.

Hopefully, further studies can be conducted, with a larger sample size, in order to explore potential treatment options for spinal cord injuries.

Support the Back Up Trust to help raise funds for those who have suffered from a spinal cord injury.


Newcastle Clinic performs hundreds of MRI scans on patients’ lumbar spine and cervical spine each year, and back injuries or back pain are very common for patients in the North East.

Our open scanner is more comfortable for patients with back injuries than an enclosed, standard MRI, since they can lie in a more suitable position. As a private clinic, we can provide MRI scan results very quickly, especially in emergencies.

Contact us to discuss a spine MRI or follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest MRI research.