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Brain stimulation restores movement in rats with spinal cord damage

Implanted electrodes might help paralyzed humans walk

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2:00pm, October 23, 2013

ON THE MOVE  Stimulating the brain helped rats with spinal cord injuries move normally. 

With the help of electrodes implanted in the brain stem, rats with spinal cord injuries can regain the ability to walk and swim with ease, scientists report October 23 in Science Translational Medicine.

It’s not yet clear whether the technique would work in people with paralysis, but the research represents a new lead in the search for badly needed therapies, says study coauthor Lukas Bachmann of the University of Zurich.

The results complement recent work that restored movement to paralyzed rats by stimulating neurons in the spinal cord (SN: 6/30/2012, p. 5). Instead of targeting the spine, the new study focuses on the brain.

Most spinal cord injuries leave some nerve fibers unscathed. The brain stimulation technique relies on this small population of fibers to carry an amplified &ldquo

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