Elisabeth Manville
Jun 1, 2012

Rats paralyzed due to spinal cord injury walking again thanks to new therapy

Rats that were previously paralyzed as the result of spinal cord injuries are now walking again thanks to a new rehabilitation technique. Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have shown that a severed section of the spinal cord can be restored to function when its own innate regenerative capacity is awakened. The researchers injected a chemical solution into the rats, which triggered cell responses by binding to specific receptors on the spinal neurons, replacing neurotransmitters released by brainstem pathways in healthy rats. The scientists then stimulated the spinal cord with electrodes. “After a couple of weeks of neurorehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation, our rats are not only voluntarily initiating a walking gait, but they are soon sprinting, climbing up stairs and avoiding obstacles when stimulated,” lead author Grégoire Courtine said. For more, check out this video.