People generally think of the brain as the command center of the body, but there are mechanisms in the spinal cord that continue to work even if connection to the brain has been severed.
Toronto residents will be interested to know that now, for the first time, researchers have decoded those spinal cord mechanisms, and the discovery could lead to improved rehabilitation for spinal cord patients.
It has already been shown that electrical pulses in the spinal cord can trigger activity in the legs even after a spinal cord injury results in paralysis of the legs. However, the exact mechanisms used in the spinal cord to control this kind of activity were unknown.
Researchers in Austria believe their discovery could lead to the development of new therapies that will help individual spinal cord patients regain at least partial leg movement. The key, the researchers say, is to identify the specific neural centers in the spine and stimulate them accordingly.
Determining what kind of electrical stimulation is appropriate will depend on the specific injury profile of the patient. The researchers noted that more study needs to be done on how best to stimulate the neural networks.
So far, the scientists have used a non-invasive process of stimulating the spinal cord. Electrodes are attached to the patient's skin, and the spinal cord receives electrical impulses. The method does not expose the patient to any stress or medical risks.
In the last several years, much important research into spinal cord injuries has led to major medical breakthroughs, and 2015 may be another such year.
Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers will also continue to help families gain access to important resources after paralysis-causing accidents.
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