CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- New research suggests that the immune system could lead to better treatment and recovery for spinal-cord injuries, especially for older people.

Although the body's ability to respond to such injuries decreases with age, this study shows that doctors might be able to "bolster" the natural immune response, improving patient recovery.

According to one researcher and recent PhD graduate from UVA’s School of Medicine, Andrea Salvador, this process used to be controversial, but now, scientists see the positive impacts it could have on older people who suffer from spinal-cord injuries.

"Before, people have only focused on the changes or the response in young adults. But, I think that's one of the biggest significances of our study is that we really focused on aging because the people who are experiencing spinal-cord injury, for example, are more aged individuals,” said Salvador.

Salvador says that this paper took three years of research.

The overarching theme is how the immune system can be manipulated to help maintain the function of the brain and the spinal cord.