How the Brain can be Reprogrammed to Overcome Paralysis

Illustration of a nerve bypassThe Singularity Hub has a fascinating article about surgery that rewires damaged nerves, and effectively reprograms the brain to allow paralyzed patients to regain use of their limbs. Restorative neurology is a pathbreaking field that combines multiple disciplines--neurology, surgical medicine, and regenerative medicine--to do something truly astounding. From the article:

The 71-year-old patient suffered a spinal cord injury after a car accident four years ago that left him partially paralyzed. Although he was still able to move his arms to a degree, the accident left him unable to pinch or grip with either hand, due to the specific location of his injury. Surgeons at the Washington University School of Medicine performed a bypass procedure, which rerouted one of the healthy nerves that allowed him to flex his elbows and connected it to nerves that control his hand.

After eight months of intensive physical therapy, the rewired pathways have enabled him to flex his index fingers and thumbs. Although the patient will likely never regain full utility of his hand, he is now able to feed himself and is close to being able to write again. The case report was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery

Read the entire article at The Singularity Hub.

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Posted on June 12, 2012 .