Therapeutic hypothermia is already widely acknowledged as an effective neuroprotective intervention, especially within the acute care setting in relation to conditions such as cardiac arrest and neonatal encephalopathy. Its multifactorial mechanisms of action, including lowering metabolic rate and reducing acute inflammatory cellular processes, ultimately provide protection for central nervous tissue from continuing injury following ischaemic or traumatic insult. Its clinical application within acute traumatic spinal cord injury would therefore seem very plausible, it having the potential to combat the pathophysiological secondary injury processes that can develop in the proceeding hours to days following the initial injury. As such it could offer invaluable assistance to lessen subsequent sensory, motor and autonomic dysfunction for an individual affected by this devastating condition. Yet research surrounding this intervention’s applicability in this field is somewhat lacking, the majority being experimental. Despite a recent resurgence of interest, which in turn has produced encouraging results, there is a real possibility that this potentially transformational intervention for treating traumatic spinal cord injury could remain an experimental therapy and never reach clinical implementation.
- clinical management