Daily Archives: January 12, 2015
RALEIGH One paralyzed dog even got its wag back.
The new study at N.C. State University, though, was mainly to see if two experimental drugs could help dogs with spinal cord injuries regain the use of their hind legs, something that may have implications for injured humans, too. Three did, with dramatic – if imperfect – improvement in their ability to walk.
The study, which was published last week in the online journal PLOS ONE, includes a short video clip of one of the trio on a treadmill before and after getting one of the drugs.
Even after complete spinal paralysis, the human spinal cord is able to trigger activity in the leg muscles using electrical pulses from an implanted stimulator. This has already been demonstrated in earlier studies conducted in Vienna. Now, as part of a joint international project, a team of young researchers at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at MedUni Vienna has succeeded in identifying the mechanisms the spinal cord uses to control this muscle activity. These mechanisms still work even if the neural pathways from the brain are physically interrupted as the result of a spinal cord injury. This is the first time throughout the world that the spinal-cord activation patterns for walking have been decoded.
Stem cell therapy holds promise for people whose conditions leave them without much hope.
But it also poses a dilemma:
Stay and wait for U.S. stem cell experiments to pan out and receive government approval, or go abroad for treatments where breakthroughs have been touted but caution is being urged.
That dilemma has played out in Northwest Georgia with two teens whose accidents left them in wheelchairs.