Tag: Nervous System
Polymerized estrogen shown to protect nervous system cells. Research could enable improved treatment of spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord damage that causes paralysis and reduced mobility doesn’t always stop with the initial trauma, but there are few treatment options to halt increased deterioration — and there is no cure. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a promising new biomaterial that could offer targeted treatment to the damaged spinal cord and tissue, preventing further damage.
Spinal cord is the main pathway of communication between brain and peripheral nervous system. Spinal cord injury (SCI) often leads to sensory and motor functional deficits below the injury level, causing severe disability and bringing heavy burden to family and society. Spinal cord injury repair is one of the most challenging medical problems, and no effective therapeutic methods has been developed. The spinal cord is a complex tissue composed of various types of nerve cells, nerve fibers, and blood vessels. After SCI, the injury distance usually reaches several centimeters, resulting in the loss of multiple cells and the interruption of neural connections.
Gene partnerships found in salamander could give insights into how spinal cord injuries and neurodegenerative conditions could be better treated.
Scientists have identified certain gene partnerships that promote the regeneration of spinal cords.
Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) investigated genetic relationships between gene partners in axolotl salamander that allow the neural tube and nerve fibres to functionally regenerate after spinal cord damage.
Injuries to the spinal cord can cause permanent paralysis and even lead to death, with little to no hope of regaining lost functions once the trauma has occurred.
Dr Jerry Silver and his team at Case Western Reserve University Medical School, USA, have been working to understand why nerves that are damaged through spinal injury don’t regenerate and to identify non-invasive, easy to administer strategies that can promote robust functional recovery.
A new study suggests that a nonsurgical, noninvasive spinal stimulation procedure can help people with severe spinal cord injury (SCI) regain use of their hands and fingers.
Developed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA; USA) and NeuroRecovery Technologies (Dana Point, CA, USA) transcutaneous enabling motor control (TEMC) involves neuromodulation of nonfunctional sensory-motor networks by placing electrodes on the skin that stimulate the cervical spinal cord using an electrical current delivered at varying frequencies and intensities to specific locations. The goal of TEMC is to restore physiological states that enable and amplify voluntary muscle control.
With the help of robot-assisted rehabilitation and electrochemical spinal cord stimulation, rats with clinically relevant spinal cord injuries regained control of their otherwise paralyzed limbs. But how do brain commands for walking, swimming and stair-climbing bypass the injury and still reach the spinal cord to execute these complex tasks? EPFL scientists have observed for the first time that the brain reroutes task-specific motor commands through alternative pathways originating in the brainstem and projecting to the spinal cord. The therapy triggers the growth of new connections from the motor cortex into the brainstem and from the brainstem into the spinal cord, thus reconnecting the brain with the spinal cord below the injury. The results are published in Nature Neuroscience March 19th.
Bottom Line: A team of neuroscientists has uncovered a neural network that can restore diaphragm function after spinal cord injury. The network allows the diaphragm to contract without input from the brain, which could help paralyzed spinal cord injury patients breathe without a respirator.
Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cell Reports
Author: Jared Cregg, Neurosciences graduate student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio is first author on the study.
Researchers have identified a protein in zebrafish that plays a role in helping heal major spinal cord injuries. The results, published in the 4 November issue of Science, could provide an important clue for researchers looking for ways to facilitate similar tissue repair in humans.
While mammals lack the ability to regenerate nervous system tissue after spinal cord injury, zebrafish can regenerate such tissue. The mechanisms behind this recovery have remained elusive.
“Only six to eight weeks after a paralyzing injury that completely severs their spinal cord, zebrafish form new neurons, regrow axons and recover the ability to swim. Importantly, these regenerative events proceed without massive scarring,” explained Mayssa Mokalled of Duke University, a researcher involved in the study.
The body is a series of checks and balances. This is true of muscles that push and countering muscles that pull. It is also true of the nervous system that operates in a balancing type of process. Individuals with higher level spinal cord injury can develop a complication called Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD). This is a condition where the sympathetic nervous system is left unchecked by the parasympathetic nervous system.
There is a bundle of nerves at the Thoracic vertebrae number six (T6) level that is a major junction where nerves come close together in the spinal cord. Individuals with spinal cord injury above this level have a disruption in the nerve segment. For these individuals, stimulation of the body at or below T6 can send confusing messages to the brain as the message will create a huge discharge of the sympathetic nervous system using all of the blood flow in the abdomen without the counter control of the parasympathetic nervous system to contain it. Blood pressure rises to extremely high proportions.
Scientists report in Nature Neuroscience they have identified an underlying cause of dangerous immune suppression in people with high level spinal cord injuries and they propose a possible treatment.
In the journal’s April 18 online edition, researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University write that spinal cord injuries higher than thoracic level 5 (T5) cause autonomic nervous system circuitry to develop a highly adaptable state of plasticity. The autonomic nervous system controls bodily functions that are not consciously directed – like breathing, heartbeat, digestion and immune function.