Novel approach also shows promise for autoimmune diseases
Paralyzing damage in spinal cord injury (SCI) is often caused by the zealous immune response to the injury. NIBIB-funded engineers have developed nanoparticles that lure immune cells away from the spinal cord, allowing regeneration that restored spinal cord function in mice.
On any given day up to 25 individuals with varied disabilities are hard at work in the EP!C Hub computer lab in Peoria, earning a paycheck and cultivating independence thanks to assistive technology.
The Hub has a variety of adaptive equipment, including specialized keyboards and screen-reading software. Hub workers with disabilities design and print flyers, posters and calendars; create business cards; and even make and sell their own greeting cards.
“Technology definitely helps them to work and live a more rewarding fulfilling productive life. Because a lot of them have those abilities; they just need a little bit of assistance,” said Lauren Coyle, EP!C’s director of specialized programs.
A training regimen to adjust the body’s motor reflexes may help improve mobility for some people with incomplete spinal cord injuries, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
During training, the participants were instructed to suppress a knee jerk-like reflex elicited by a small shock to the leg. Those who were able to calm hyperactive reflexes – a common effect of spinal cord injuries – saw improvements in their walking.
With the ultimate goal of accelerating the discovery of drugs to regenerate or protect nerves after spinal cord injury, Miller School researchers have received a $2.5 million grant to develop a novel database to enable neuroscientists to search the voluminous and growing number of studies related to nervous system repair, and link relevant data from those studies to other resources.