Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paralyzed Rats Walk Again After Spinal Cord Injury

large rat walking towards you
UCLA researchers have discovered that a combination of drugs, electrical stimulation and regular exercise can enable paralyzed rats to walk and even run again while supporting their full weight on a treadmill. Published Nov. 20 in the online edition of Nature Neuroscience, the findings suggest that the regeneration of severed nerve fibers is not required for paraplegic rats to learn to walk again. The finding may hold implications for human rehabilitation after spinal cord injuries.
"The spinal cord contains nerve circuits that can generate rhythmic activity without input from the brain to drive the hind leg muscles in a way that resembles walking called 'stepping,'" explained principal investigator Reggie Edgerton, a professor of neurobiology and physiological sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
"Previous studies have tried to tap into this circuitry to help victims of spinal cord injury," he added. "While other researchers have elicited similar leg movements in people with complete spinal injuries, they have not achieved full weight-bearing and sustained stepping as we have in our study."
and a little more...

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