A team of researchers have found how to regain mobility after the spine fracture
Scientists rely on electrostimulation of the spinal cord and special "fitness". It was known that even with the most serious injuries of the spinal cord, some of its nerve fibers remain intact. But they are not involved in the human motor system directly. The experts suggest to switch neuronic chains, by reorienting them to a new task. Electrostimulation and training in a special exoskeleton may help to do this.
The method was tested on paralyzed rats. As a result, the mobility of the legs has almost completely returned to the animals. At the same time, the scientists monitored the activity of nerve cells and their connections with other neurons using a special microscope. The analysis revealed a region of the brain that has been changed significantly due to rehabilitation. Further, the experts taught the nerve cells in this region to "switch on" and "switch off" in response to the laser.
Such operations made the selected region of the cerebral cortex as the main "conductor" in the process of restoring the mobility of mice. This conductor has "reformatted" the system of connections between the spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system. By means of this conductor the cells were forced to connect with new chains and to bypass the damaged area. In turn, by blocking the cells in this brain’s region the mice completely lost their ability to recover after spinal injuries.
The scientists are positive about the prospects for applying the method: "We have demonstrated that the ability of human nerve cells to form new connections with other regions of the spinal cord is even higher than in rodents. Now we are testing our therapy on volunteers at the University Hospital of Lausanne, "says the neurophysiologist Gregory Curtin.