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article imageStudy: Brain Can Rewire Nervous System After Injury

By ashley.woods4     Jan 7, 2008 in Health
Scientists reported Monday that tiny nerves crisscrossing the spine can bypass crippling injuries, which was once thought irreversible.
Experiments were conducted on mice at the University of California in Los Angeles which showed for the first time that the central nervous system can rewire itself. The nervous system can create a small neural pathways between the brain and the nerve cells that control movement.
This discovery can open many pathways to new forms of therapy for patients with damaged spinal cords.
"Not long ago, it was assumed that the brain was hard-wired at birth and that there was no capacity to adapt to damage," explained neurobiologist Michael Sofroniew, who led the research.
However, new evidence shows that the brain is more powerful than scientists thought and has the amazing capability to reorganize itself in response to injury.
In the experiments with the mice Sofroniew and his crew, blocked half of the long axon nerve fibers in mice, paralysing the animals' hind legs.
They left the spinal cord's core untouched because this is where the shorter nerves are that are able to rewire themselves.
Most of the mice regained control of their legs within eight weeks, however, the movement was not as fluent, graceful or quick as before.
"The next goal is to determine how to maximize the process through the right kind of rehabilitation and training, and to test whether there are any forms of pharmacologic stimulation that might help as well," said Sofroniew.
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