“Salamanders are unique because they are one of the only tetrapods able to regrow spinal cords with full functionality,” says Auke Ijspeert, the head of EPFL’s Biorobotics Laboratory. After an injury, these amphibians are able to “magically” regrow their spinal cords and regain locomotion.
A team of scientists led by Ijspeert along with András Simon, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Dimitri Ryczko, an assistant professor at the Université de Sherbrooke’s laboratory of motor control in Canada, is looking into exactly how the process works through a project that has just received a Synergy Grant from the European Research Council.
Reconstructive hand surgery can dramatically enhance the life quality and independence of those paralysed by a cervical spinal cord injury. Despite this, the operation is not frequently performed, either in Sweden or elsewhere. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy are now hoping to change that.
A cervical spinal cord injury entails paralysis in both arms and legs, severely limiting daily life for its victims. Previous studies have shown that the capability that those with cervical spinal cord injuries most wish to recover is a functioning hand.