September 15, 2015

"By leveraging 'the nervous system’s intrinsic capacity for reorganization and repair,' the authors write, electrical stimulation could help people regain lost motor abilities, perhaps, or bladder, bowel, or sexual function."

IEEE Spectrum A promising new study shows that the nervous system can rewire itself—with a little help from neural engineers. By Eliza Strickland

'For someone with a spinal cord injury, destroyed neurons act like a roadblock that prevents movement commands from traveling down the spinal cord and along the nerves. Although an injured person wills his fingers to grasp a cup, for example, the command never makes it to his hand.

'But a study published today suggests that precisely controlled electrical stimulation can encourage the nervous system to create detours around that roadblock, allowing the command to get through.

'Spectrum has covered “closed-loop” neurostimulation systems before, most notably in this feature article written by researchers from the companies Medronic, Cyberonics, and Neuropace. The authors described systems that used various bodily signals to trigger electrical pulses that countered epilepsy attacks and chronic pain. Such smart and responsive systems, which are now being used in humans, seem a clear step forward in electrical therapeutics.'

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