Scientists make paralyzed rats learn to `grip` again
London: A research which was conducted on rats, who were first paralyzed, found that with right timing, dosage and kind of rehabilitation, motor functions can recover almost fully even after a large stroke.
The study conducted by an interdisciplinary team headed by Professor Martin Schwab from the Brain Research Institute at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich`s Neuroscience Center is another milestone in research on the repair of brain and spinal cord injuries.
First author Anna-Sophia Wahl said that this new rehabilitative approach at least triggered an astonishing recovery of the motor skills in rats, which may become important for the treatment of stroke patients in the future. At present, patients have to deal with often severe motor-function, language and vision problems, and their quality of life is often heavily affected.
On the one hand, the treatment of rats after a stroke involved specific immune therapy, where so-called Nogo proteins are blocked with antibodies. These proteins in the tissue around the nerve fibers inhibit nerve-fiber growth. If they are blocked, nerve fibers begin to sprout in the injured sections of the brain and spinal cord and relay nerve impulses again. On the other hand, the stroke animals, whose front legs were paralyzed, underwent physical training namely, gripping food pellets. All the rats received antibody treatment first to boost nerve-fiber growth and - either at the same time or only afterwards - motor training.
Results showed that animals who began their training later regained a remarkable 85 percent of their original motor skills.
Schwab concluded that the study revealed how important a meticulous therapeutic design is for the most successful rehabilitation possible, adding that the brain has enormous potential for the reorganization and reestablishment of its functions.
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