Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Paralyzed in US than Previously Thought

About 5.6 million Americans have some degree of paralysis — far more than previously thought, according to the findings of a telephone survey released today by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The 2008 survey of more than 33,000 U.S. households defined paralysis as "a central nervous system disorder resulting in difficulty or inability to move" arms or legs. Mobility problems from muscular dystrophy, obesity, arthritis or diabetes, which aren't central nervous system disorders, weren't counted.

Previously, the highest estimate of paralyzed Americans was 4 million, says Joe Canose, vice president for quality of life at the foundation.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

"Moment by Moment: The Healing Journey of Molly Hale"

"Moment by Moment: The Healing Journey of Molly Hale" is an inspiring documentary film on a woman's journey to heal from a spinal cord injury. It documents Molly's progress to work past a prediction that she would be paralyzed from the shoulders down. Through a variety of healing methods and an outpouring of hands-on-support from her community, she is beginning to learn to walk again and has hope for future progress. It is an intimate, touching film that could help others to visualize a healing path for themselves. It can be viewed online for free.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Hope for Spinal Cord Injuries

A paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA reports success in repairing damaged nerves in a system critical for human movement.<

We depend on the corticospinal system, a dense tract of nerve fibers that connect our brain’s motor cortex to the spinal cord, simply to walk or move our hands.

And though researchers in the last two decades have made great progress in regenerating some kinds of damaged nerves, they’ve not been able to regrow nerves in the critical corticospinal system. Until now. The breakthrough was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Scientists genetically engineered rats so that injured neurons in the motor cortex expressed receptors for a growth factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The injured neurons recognized the growth factor in the injured area, and then “grew” or regenerated.
But will the regrown nerves actually allow movement?

The researchers will have to test for this at a spinal cord injury site, to see if neurons will send the receptor down the axon and into the spinal cord. If voluntary movement can be restored in larger animals first, the procedure could move on to human clinical trials, offering hope that people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries might someday be able to move again.

Report by: Christie Nicholson; Scientific American
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