Monthly Archives: June 2014
Neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA) have shown that they can control muscle movement by applying optogenetics—a technique that enables control of neurons’ electrical impulses with light—to the spinal cords of animals that are awake and alert.
Led by MIT Institute Professor Emilio Bizzi, the researchers studied mice in which a light-sensitive protein that promotes neural activity was inserted into a subset of spinal neurons. When the researchers shone blue light on the animals’ spinal cords, their hind legs were completely but reversibly immobilized. The work offers a new approach to studying the complex spinal circuits that coordinate movement and sensory processing, the researchers say.
“I remember hitting the bottom, being face down, and my entire body getting a tingling feeling like when your foot falls asleep. It was then that I knew I broke my neck. I couldn’t move, not even to lift my head up.
About a minute went by and that’s when I prayed, ‘God, if you want me, take me. If not, please don’t let me die.’ With that, the rest of my air went out, and I blacked out.” ~Jason Dugmore
VICTORIAN medical researchers are embarking on a range of exciting trials to improve the lives of people with quadriplegia and prevent the severity of new spinal cord injuries.
Among the projects under way are: electrically stimulated exercise, a sunshine pill and oxygen mask to stop their brain fog and a robotic arm that offers independence.
While international breakthroughs show rats with severed spines walking, experimental stem cell therapies and brain implants moving hands, experts caution that even significant advances take time.
Exercise therapy research at the University of Newcastle has brought profound improvements to limbs that were paralysed, doctors say.
The award-winning laboratory research is bringing hope of restored muscle function to those suffering paralysis from spinal damage, potentially including injured Newcastle Knights player, Alex McKinnon.
Neurophysiologist Dr Michelle Rank believes exercise is more beneficial than any other therapy currently available, even for patients with long-term injuries.
For the first time ever, a paralyzed man can move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts thanks to an innovative partnership between The Ohio State Univ. Wexner Medical Center and Battelle.
Ian Burkhart, a 23-year-old quadriplegic from Dublin, Ohio, is the first patient to use Neurobridge, an electronic neural bypass for spinal cord injuries that reconnects the brain directly to muscles, allowing voluntary and functional control of a paralyzed limb. Burkhart is the first of a potential five participants in a clinical study.
Wendy is an advocate who utilizes her connection to the fashion industry to develop unique endeavors that raise awareness for women with physical challenges.
Study in mice suggests immune cells fail to activate key messenger needed for repair
COLUMBUS, Ohio – In the complex environment of a spinal cord injury, researchers have found that immune cells in the central nervous system of elderly mice fail to activate an important signaling pathway, dramatically lowering chances for repair after injury.
Initial human studies of the H-Reflex Device have shown significant improvements in locomotion in spinal cord-injured (SCI) patients. Presented here is the use of a device and protocol to improve locomotor function in people with SCI by down-conditioning hyperactive reflexes or, if appropriate, up-conditioning hypoactive reflexes. Using operant conditioning of spinal reflexes, we can target plasticity to specific reflex pathways, which results in significant improvements in walking performance. These include less spasticity, easier stepping, increased walking speed, improved gait symmetry and decreased dependence on assistive devices.
It is usually pretty hard to remain upbeat when dealing with a new spinal cord injury or other type of paralyzing disability, but I think a change is overdue. The first days and weeks following an injury, or post-diagnosis for some “crippling” disease, are usually filled with a constant series of frank discussions warning patients and their families of the additional problems and complications which make up their future. In far too many cases, at least in the past, the dire predictions could extend out to a lifetime of challenges. Dwelling on the negative could be setting newly paralyzed individuals up for failure. Is that really the best we can do in this enlightened age?
An array of techniques – some available now and others on the horizon – aim to restore movement and other functions in patients with spinal cord injuries.
A paraplegic wearing an Iron Man-like exoskeleton took the first kick of the World Cup soccer tournament during the opening ceremony in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a testament to recent advances in treating spinal cord injuries.
The robotic bodysuit took cues from the user’s brain activity to power his steps forward. It was developed by Brazilian doctor Miguel Nicolelis, who is on the faculty at Duke University, and more than 150 scientists from around the world.