Brain compensatory mechanisms enhance the recovery from spinal cord injury

Nov 15, 2007

A research team led by Tadashi Isa, a professor at the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences, NIPS (SEIRIKEN), and Dr. Yukio Nishimura (University of Washington, Seattle), have found that brain compensatory mechanisms contribute to recovery from spinal cord injury. This study was conducted in collaboration with Hamamatsu Photonics (Dr. Hideo Tsukada) and RIKEN (Dr. Hirotaka Onoe).

It was supported by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). The team reports their findings on November 16, 2007 in Science magazine.

The basis of neurorehabilitation relies on the concept that training recruits remaining intact neuronal systems to compensate for partial injury to the spinal cord or brain. Until recently, the neuronal basis of these compensatory mechanisms has been poorly understood.

In previous work, the research team showed that finger dexterity could recover with rehabilitation following transection of the direct cortico-motoneuronal pathway in the Japanese macaque monkey. In the current study, brain imaging (PET scan) indicated that bilateral primary motor cortex contributes to early-stage recovery of finger movement.

During late-stage recovery, more extensive regions of the contralesional primary motor cortex and bilateral premotor cortex were activated to compensate for impaired finger movements. Pharmacological inactivation of these regions during rehabilitation slowed recovery. These results suggest that brain compensatory mechanisms actively enhance recovery from spinal cord injury.

Professor Isa explains that this study is the first to show that brain compensatory mechanisms contribute to recovery following injury to the central nervous system. The functional plasticity of the brain compensates for lost function and enhances recovery from injury. "This study reinforces our current understanding of neurorehabilitation and may lead to new rehabilitation strategies for patients with spinal cord injuries or any kind of brain damage", said Professor Isa.

Source: National Institute for Physiological Sciences

Explore further: Unprecedented germ diversity found in remote Amazonian tribe

Related Stories

Bone eating worms dined on marine reptile carcasses

16 minutes ago

A species of bone-eating worm that was believed to have evolved in conjunction with whales has been dated back to prehistoric times when it fed on the carcasses of giant marine reptiles.

3-D printing blossoms into powerful new tool for ecologists

16 minutes ago

3D printing has been used to make everything from cars to medical implants. Now, ecologists are using the technology to make artificial flowers, which they say could revolutionise our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions. ...

Recommended for you

Bacteria play only a minor role stomach ulcers in cattle

Apr 17, 2015

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna investigated whether stomach ulcers in cattle are related to the presence of certain bacteria. For their study, they analysed bacteria present in ...

New research reveals how our skeleton is a lot like our brain

Apr 17, 2015

Researchers from Monash University and St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne have used mathematical modelling combined with advanced imaging technology to calculate, for the first time, the number and connectivity ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.