Christopher Reeve Provides Further Hope for People with Disabilities

Paralyzed 'Superman' Star's Announcement of Regained Sensation Echoes Rapid

Medical Discoveries Chronicled in 'IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CORD'

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- When actor-director Christopher Reeve damaged his spinal cord in an equestrian accident in 1995, doctors predicted that he would never be able to feel or move below his head. But as announced last week, Reeve has experienced a degree of recovery doctors once believed impossible. Is this a modern miracle? Or does it herald the next wave of medical discovery?

Doctors hope it is the latter. Reeve's improvement is another reminder of the advances constantly being made in the field of spinal cord research. And he isn't alone. While spinal cord injury was once considered a virtual death sentence, now more than 90 percent of spinally injured people survive. "More progress has been made in the field of spinal cord repair and regeneration in the last 20 years than in the 3,500 years preceding them," says Luba Vikhanski, author of In Search of the Lost Cord: Solving the Mystery of Spinal Cord Regeneration. "Most hopeful scientists say effective spinal repair is only a matter of time. It's a question of when, not if."

Vikhanski's book, In Search of the Lost Cord, profiles not only the technology that led to Reeve's latest results, but other experimental spinal cord regeneration research occurring around the globe, giving readers an exciting track-side seat in the race to claim the prize of a cure.

"This book is as poignant as it is exciting," says Reeve, a fan of the book. "I enthusiastically applaud the efforts of all the talented -- and tenacious -- scientists who have spent years searching for a cure for spinal cord injuries. In Search of the Lost Cord is their story. And what an incredible story it is."

"We talk about DNA and heredity as though it were something we always knew about, rather than a scientific discovery that took years and years of research," Vikhanski said. "One day that is how we will talk about recovery from spinal cord injury."


LUBA VIKHANSKI is a science journalist who serves as head of the foreign press section in the public affairs department of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Her previous book, The Well-Informed Patient's Guide to Breast Surgery, received the American Medical Association's Rose Kushner Award for popular medical writing.


The Joseph Henry Press is an imprint of the National Academies Press, publisher for the National Academies -- National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. The Joseph Henry Press can be found online at . The Dana Press is the publisher for the Charles A. Dana Foundation and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.