A recent study enabled rats with severe spinal cord injuries to walk again. This was achieved through an approach combining three procedures:
- Injection of a drug cocktail,
- Electric stimulation, and
- Robot help.
(Source: youtube, user: NationalGeographic)
Inspiring, no? Admit it, you were rooting for the rat.
However, this quote from the ScienceNOW post shows that there’s still work to be done.
As encouraging as the new findings are, Courtine is careful to note the strategy’s limitations. For one thing, it wouldn’t work if the spinal cord were completely severed. In addition, treated rats could only make voluntary movements while the electrical stimulation was turned on, and the same was mostly true of the patient Edgerton and colleagues worked with. “This is not a cure for spinal cord injury,” Courtine says. “It’s a promising proof of principle.”
van den Brand, R., Heutschi, J., Barraud, Q., DiGiovanna, J., Bartholdi, K., Huerlimann, M., Friedli, L., Vollenweider, I., Moraud, E., Duis, S., Dominici, N., Micera, S., Musienko, P., & Courtine, G. (2012). Restoring Voluntary Control of Locomotion after Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury Science, 336 (6085), 1182-1185 DOI: 10.1126/science.1217416