Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Working Around Spinal Injuries - Spinal Cord Functional Recovery

  • Published: 2017-07-26 : University of California - Davis (ucdavis.edu).
  • Synopsis: Study shows that changes in the brain after spinal cord injury are necessary to restore at least some function to lower limbs.

Main Document

Quote: "The rats partially recovered their ability to move their hind limbs while on the treadmill and were even able to take consecutive, independent steps, the researchers found..."

A new study in rats shows that changes in the brain after spinal cord injury are necessary to restore at least some function to lower limbs. The work was published recently in the journal eLife.

"After injury, the spinal cord cannot go back to its original state before the injury. If an animal receives rehabilitation therapy, we now know that the spinal cord will go to a new state that supports functional recovery. Under these conditions, the brain must also change and re-learn to communicate with the new state of the spinal cord," said Karen Moxon, professor of biomedical engineering at UC Davis and senior author on the paper.

Moxon and colleagues used a combination of physical therapy (cycling and semi-load bearing treadmill training) and treatment with the drug serotonin, which stimulates nerve cells, in rats with a severed spinal cord that could not voluntarily move their hind legs.

The rats partially recovered their ability to move their hind limbs while on the treadmill and were even able to take consecutive, independent steps, the researchers found.

This occurred without healing of the break in the spinal cord. Instead, the nerve cells above the break appear to have re-routed their outputs to control muscles running down the animal's trunk that span the break, Moxon said. Brain areas that previously controlled the legs instead stiffened these back muscles.

Stiffening these muscles allowed the rats to lift their hindquarters such that the leg muscles and the spinal cord below the break could make simple, repetitive leg movements resulting in the animal supporting its own weight and taking independent steps.

The results show that the body can, to some extent, work around a break in the spinal cord without having to repair it, Moxon said.

"The system can find ways to bridge that lesion, up to a point," she said. However, the rats are still not capable of voluntary movement of their hind legs - only reflexive movements.

In future work, Moxon hopes to connect the reorganized brain circuits to leg muscles through a brain/machine interface to restore voluntary movements.

Coauthors on the study are Anitha Manohar, Drexel University, Philadelphia and Guglielmo Foffani, Universidad CEU-San Pablo and Hospital Nacional de Parapléjicos, Toledo, Spain, with Patrick Ganzer and John Bethea, also at Drexel University. Experimental work was conducted primarily at Drexel University. The work was supported by grants to Moxon from the NSF, NIH and Shriners Hospital for Children.

Similar Topics

1 : Genes That Repair the Spinal Cord in Fish Are Also Present in Humans : Northwell Health.
2 : Majority of Patients with Unknown Spinal Cord Disease Later Given Specific Diagnosis : Mayo Clinic.
3 : When the Spinal Cord Takes Charge of Information Related to Movement : Salk Institute.
4 : Human Spine and Spinal Cord Picture C1 - S5 Vertebra : Ian Langtree.
5 : What is Quadriplegia and Paraplegia? : Disabled World.
From our Spinal Cord Injury section - Full List (90 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Newborns Who Experience Stroke Regain Language Function in Opposite Side of Brain
2 : Cognition and Emotion Play a Role in Predicting Quality of Children's Friendships
3 : Metabolomics - Promising Tool for Advancing in Treatment Personalization of Oncological Patients
4 : Climbing Stairs Lowers Blood Pressure and Strengthens Leg Muscles

Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.