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Spinal

— Medical

Nerve detour restores partial hand function in quadriplegic patient

It's been a good news week for those suffering debilitating spinal injuries. First we looked at a breakthrough that enables quadriplegic patients to move robotic arms using just their thoughts and now, in related news, surgeons at the Washington University School of Medicine have reported the successful rerouting of working nerves in the upper arms of a quadriplegic patient, restoring some hand function. Read More
— Medical

Magnetically-controlled "growing rods" promise less surgery for children with scoliosis

Scoliosis is a lateral deformity of the spine, that most often shows up in young children and adolescents. Besides resulting in disfigurement, in some cases it can also cause breathing problems. In severe cases, if the child is still growing, telescoping steel rods are surgically implanted alongside the deformed section of the spine, in order to straighten it. Unfortunately, repeat surgeries are necessary every six months, in order to lengthen the rods as the child grows. Now, however, scientists from the University of Hong Kong are reporting success in the first human trials of a system that incorporates rods which can be lengthened using magnets instead of surgery. Read More
— Good Thinking

Students are creating a better, safer cervical collar

When a person injures the region of their spine immediately below their skull, emergency medical technicians apply what is known as a cervical collar. The devices first saw use in the Vietnam War, where medics needed a quick and simple system that could be used to immobilize the heads and necks of injured soldiers. In the years since, however, some studies have suggested that by pushing the head up and away from the body, the collars may cause the vertebrae to separate – actually making some spinal injuries worse. Fortunately, a team of six undergraduate engineering students from Houston’s Rice University are now developing a new type of cervical collar, that keeps the head still in a safer fashion. Read More
— Medical

Bioengineered spinal disc implants to combat back pain

Researchers have created a biologically based spinal implant they say could someday provide relief for the millions of people suffering lower back and neck pain. Instead of removing damaged spinal discs – a surgery known as a discectomy – and fusing the vertebrate bones to stabilize the spine in patients diagnosed with severe degenerative disc disease, or herniated discs, the artificial discs could be used to replace damaged discs, performing better than current implants that are made from a combination of metal and plastic. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

Paralyzed man regains voluntary leg movement with electrode array implant

In a move that gives cautious hope to the millions of people suffering some form of paralysis, a team of researchers from UCLA, Caltech and the University of Louisville has given a man rendered paralyzed from the chest down after a hit-and-run accident in 2006 the ability to stand and take his first tentative steps in four years. The team used a stimulating electrode array implanted into the man’s body to provide continual direct electrical stimulation to the lower part of the spinal cord that controls movement of the hips, knees, ankles and toes, to mimic the signals the brain usually sends to initiate movement. Read More
— Science

Spinal cord tissue regenerated with sodium

In a study that could have implications for the treatment of traumatic injuries in humans, scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts have succeeded in getting tadpoles to regrow amputated tails. The researchers first noted that when the tails were cut off of young Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) tadpoles, a localized increase in sodium ions occurred at the amputation site, which allowed the tail to regenerate – something which tadpoles lose the ability to do as they mature. However, after an hour of treatment with a drug cocktail that triggered an influx of sodium ions into injured cells, older tadpoles were also able to regenerate their tails. Given that tadpole tails contain spinal cord, muscle, nerves and other materials, it’s possible that the process might someday be able to regenerate the spinal cords, or even limbs, of people. Read More
— Medical

Researchers regenerate nerve connections after spinal injury

According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, about two percent of Americans – more than six million people – have some form of paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury, which is due primarily to the interruption of connections between the brain and spinal cord. Such paralysis and loss of function has long been considered untreatable, but a new approach has, for the first time, induced robust regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement, showing the potential for new therapeutic approaches to paralysis and other motor function impairments and offering hope to sufferers. Read More
— Urban Transport

State of the art back protection for cyclists

Helmets are the obvious form of protection for cyclists, and many parts of the world have laws in place making the wearing of them while riding a bike mandatory. But with cyclists being such vulnerable targets on the roads, other protective gear is undoubtedly a good idea - and almost essential for offroaders traversing rugged terrain. The Spine Ergo Flow is a lightweight armor for your spine that is designed to decrease the likelihood of sustaining a serious spinal injury in the event of an accident. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

Mind-reading brain probe could unlock motor control for quadriplegics

While Honda is taking a benign and non-invasive approach to the coveted brain-machine interface, British researchers are experimenting with a sensor array that is actually implanted in the brain. Dr. Jon Spratley's "multi-contact brain probe" is designed to be injected into the tissue of the brain with a fine needle, where it will sit, monitoring electrical impulses across the brain's motor cortex and relaying them wirelessly to an external device. Spratley believes the technology could unlock a range of bionic possibilities for quadriplegics, who could, for example, learn to control a wheelchair or computer mouse using the same brain commands that used to operate their arms and legs. Read More
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