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Restoring paretic hand function via an artificial neural connection bridging spinal cord injury

Date:
April 11, 2013
Source:
National Institute for Physiological Sciences
Summary:
Scientists have investigated the effects of introducing a novel artificial neural connection which bridged a spinal cord lesion in a paretic monkey. This allowed the monkey to electrically stimulate the spinal cord through controlled brain activity and thereby to restore volitional control of the paretic hand.
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Functional loss of limb control in individuals with spinal cord injury or stroke can be caused by interruption of the neural pathways between brain and spinal cord, although the neural circuits located above and below the lesion remain functional.
Credit: Image courtesy of National Institute for Physiological Sciences

Functional loss of limb control in individuals with spinal cord injury or stroke can be caused by interruption of the neural pathways between brain and spinal cord, although the neural circuits located above and below the lesion remain functional. An artificial neural connection that bridges the lost pathway and connects brain to spinal circuits has potential to ameliorate the functional loss.

Yukio Nishimura, Associate Professor of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan, and Eberhard Fetz, Professor and Steve Perlmuter, Research Associate Professor at the University of Washington, United States investigated the effects of introducing a novel artificial neural connection which bridged a spinal cord lesion in a paretic monkey.

This allowed the monkey to electrically stimulate the spinal cord through volitionally controlled brain activity and thereby to restore volitional control of the paretic hand. This study demonstrates that artificial neural connections can compensate for interrupted descending pathways and promote volitional control of upper limb movement after damage of neural pathways such as spinal cord injury or stroke. The study will be published online in Frontiers in Neural Circuits on April 11.

"The important point is that individuals who are paralyzed want to be able to move their own bodies by their own will. This study was different from what other research groups have done up to now; we didn't use any prosthetic limbs like robotic arms to replace the original arm. What's new is that we have been able to use this artificial neuronal connection bypassing the lesion site to restore volitional control of the subject's own paretic arm. I think that for lesions of the corticospinal pathway this might even have a better chance of becoming a real prosthetic treatment rather than the sort of robotic devices that have been developed recently," Associate professor Nishimura said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute for Physiological Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yukio Nishimura, Steve I. Perlmutter, Eberhard E. Fetz. Restoration of upper limb movement via artificial corticospinal and musculospinal connections in a monkey with spinal cord injury. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 2013; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00057

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National Institute for Physiological Sciences. "Restoring paretic hand function via an artificial neural connection bridging spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411075653.htm>.
National Institute for Physiological Sciences. (2013, April 11). Restoring paretic hand function via an artificial neural connection bridging spinal cord injury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411075653.htm
National Institute for Physiological Sciences. "Restoring paretic hand function via an artificial neural connection bridging spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411075653.htm (accessed May 27, 2015).

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