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Paraplegic Rats Enabled To "Walk" Again 99

Posted by kdawson
from the for-some-definitions-of-walk dept.
eldavojohn notes a paper released in Nature Neuroscience today describing work in which paraplegic rats were enabled to walk again as early as a week after injury and treatment. The process involves a serotonin-influencing drug and electrical stimulation of the spine, along with an incentive to the paralyzed back legs to move — namely, being placed on a treadmill. Soon a poorly understood spinal mechanism called the "central pattern generator" kicks in and the rats' legs move under the stimulus of a rhythmic signal from the spine (the brain is not involved). Eurekalert reports, "Daily treadmill training over several weeks eventually enabled the rats to regain full weight-bearing walking, including backwards, sideways and at running speed. However, the injury still interrupted the brain's connection to the spinal cord-based rhythmic walking circuitry, leaving the rats unable to walk of their own accord."
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Paraplegic Rats Enabled To "Walk" Again

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  • Overlords? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TangoMargarine (1617195) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @08:18PM (#29486223) Journal
    They should team up with the dead fish with feelings and take over the world.
  • Re:Spinal reflex (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @09:58PM (#29486653) Homepage

    Balance would probably be an issue though, since the cerebellum is thought to play a pretty significant role in that. Given, it's unassisted walking, but I'm not convinced many paraplegics would stand for wearing large gyroscopes.

    I would think that many paraplegics would welcome the ability to move under the power of their own legs with the aid of something to substitute for balance (such as a harness to support their weight in a standing position). While it would undoubtedly be awkward and stare-inducing, the psychological difference between being "in a chair" (and literally looked down upon), and being able to stagger up to people and look them in the eye at their own level, could be worth it.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:04PM (#29486679)

    That is usually code for "we severed the spine so we could test out this technique"

    That is usually code for "I disapprove of this research and will continue to do so right up until I get a spinal cord injury, at which point I will promptly forget I was ever opposed to it and will gripe about the research taking too long."

  • by Landshark17 (807664) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:41PM (#29486917)

    It's funny that you consider rats to be a lower life form. They think the same of you. =^_^=

    No, that's the white mice.

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:47PM (#29487467)

    The process involves a serotonin-influencing drug

    Looks like code for "we shot them full of XTC", so I'm sure they felt relaxed and loved despite the broken spine.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:35AM (#29488287)

    You sir are no better than who you responded to because you pidgin-holed a large group of people by saying something obtuse. It edges on trolling (though I doubt you will me modded as such).

    It was snarky, but so was the GP. I did respond in kind. That's what is needed sometimes. Tubesteak was acting as if this is a crime, it's not, it's valuable research with good goals. He might value rat life differently. That's fine, but it's worth pointing out that animal rights advocates who speak out against paralyzing animals to find cures for paralysis rarely think they have anything to gain from that research. I think if they did realize they had something to gain from it, or if they had an ounce of empathy for those who are paralyzed, they would feel differently.

    I do hate it when people word things that they think some groups might find disgusting so that it is round about.

    That wasn't what happened. The authors explained their methods in detail inthe actual nature article. [nature.com]

    It's important to remember that when reading about research on /., rarely are the summary or "the article" actually written by the scientists themselves. "TFA" is usually written by a staff writer at websites like newscientist, and the summaries are written by /.ers. Occasionally, a link is provided to the real paper, as it was here. That's the actual stuff straight from the horse's mouth. Before you critique the scientists for being incomplete or not including information, make sure you're reading the article that the scientists wrote to see if they did that, but the chain of people who brought it to slashdot left it out.

    Tubesteak was taking advantage of that, acting as if the scientists were trying to cover up that information, when in fact they made no attempt to conceal it.

  • Re: Your sig (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:19PM (#29492601) Journal

    Because somehow getting revenge for 3000 lives in a decade is protecting our country. Yet saving the lives of 22,000 [pnhp.org] people who die EVERY YEAR because they don't have health insurance isn't.

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