via  NIH Image Gallery  (Creative Commons License)

via NIH Image Gallery (Creative Commons License)

the pieces must be brought back together.

Your cells already know about empty spaces.

At all times, your cells are vulnerable to trauma. Despite their innate defenses and despite the caution you exercise to keep your cells safe, the world is full of sharp edges and fast-moving objects. Trauma occurs.

Trauma exerts an effect that persists long after the injury itself is over. Trauma leaves a wound in its wake. The wound is composed of cells that used to be a community of closely bonded interdependent neighbors, but now that they are broken, there’s an expanse of empty space between them.

If the body is going to heal from the trauma and regain function of that wounded area, the empty space must be filled. Your cells have a way of ensuring that this happens.

Chemical signals are dispatched from the damaged cells, recruiting other cells in the environment to contribute to the reconstruction of the damaged area, either by migrating to the wound or by sending proteins to accomplish the necessary healing work. As they do so, an important phase of healing must occur: contraction.

Contraction is the squeezing together of the newly healed area. It’s a pressure applied by the interaction of the cells and their environment. It’s a return to neighborly closeness, a bringing-together that cannot arise from the recently damaged cells but must come from the community as a whole. No individual cell has the ability to sense its need to bond with its neighbors again. The bringing-together must arise from other cells in the community, cells that are far enough removed from the trauma that they remained whole throughout the injury.

The pressure of contraction is necessary in order for wounds to heal and scars to shrink, but if it persists too long, the wounded area becomes disfigured. There comes a point when the contraction has accomplished its goal: the wounded cells are bonded once again with their neighbors. They once again draw from one another and give to one another, rely on one another and recruit one another just as they did before the trauma occurred. The community has been re-established and the empty space is now full.