Category Archives: The Cure

Self-Motivation Key to Neural Regeneration

Some extremely important work is being done by Grégoire Courtine, a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.

His group has achieved the very important milestone of being able to rehabilitate a rat to walk again after causing hind leg paralysis by near complete severing of the spine.

This type of injury is common in Spinal Cord Injury and results in very weak signals being transmitted with not enough bandwidth to create any meaningful motor movement.

Next Dr. Courtine inject drugs that mimic the normal chemical signals from the brain into the damaged spinal cord.   They also insert two electrodes and stimulate across the injury site.

Animals left lying idle during recovery showed improved nerve growth, but did not regain function.

Animals put on a treadmill with assisted leg movements showed some improvement, but nothing that would be considered a breakthrough.

However, when a third element was added, a goal of food, then the rats not only responded, but they learned to walk again.  Some animals even regained the ability to run and climb.

This is an extraordinary result that has not been seen before.   The success appears to have been achieved by three factors.

  • Improved chemical environment for neural signaling using drugs and electric stim.
  • The use of assisted motor training that used a robotic harness to remove balance and weight issues and allowed the animal to focus on forward movement.
  • The final and most important factor seems to be the introduction of a goal and positive achievement of that goal.  In this case, running after some food and finally after 30 minute work-outs achieving that goal multiple times.

Examples the concept of “success” based motor learning is seen over and over.  One example would be the reliance on the “good arm” of stroke patients and consequently the loss of motor learning in the “bad arm”.

The work of Dr. Courtine could prove to be a breakthrough for Spinal Cord Injury patients and a confirms the thesis of BRIGHT that “success” based motor learning is likely a key therapeutic approach for children with Cerebral Palsy as well.

Cure not Care!

“Cure not Care”, “Cure Warriors”, “Cure Tribe”

These are just a few of the phrases coined by the Spinal Cord Injury community to express their dedication to the idea that a cure is very possible.

Charles Carson, was founder of the Spinal Cord Society – the first cure advocacy group dating to the late 1970s, and trademarked the slogan “cure not care”.

Sam Maddox writes these words: “Chuck, who died a year ago, believed that science and medicine could fix SCI with a focused effort. He used to suggest cure research would happen more quickly if scientists were given epidural nerve blocks to induce paralysis – to sharpen the sense of urgency. He also used to wonder whether progress was impeded by the rehab and caring industries, whose bottom line would suffer if people started dumping their wheelchairs. Carson used to host an annual SCS convention. Scientists meet the consumers. Even in the most incomprehensible neuro-babble, there is hope. As Carson often said, “A lot more people have died from no hope than from false hope.”

“The biggest difference now as opposed to 30 years ago: the warriors are much better informed. And they all seem to know each other, thanks to a networked world. There is more hope now, or at least there are more clinical trials. Better biology and more shoulders to the wheel. But today there’s still just as much impatience, passion, and anger as there was in Chuck’s day.”

Sam’s and Chuck’s words are so true.   BRIGHT’s members are most defiantly “Cure Warriors”.     Check the Treatments and Research Category frequently to see what is on the horizon as a possible cure to help recovery after Brain Injury.

Care not Cure

Care not Cure

Cure

The “C” Word… The “Cure”

Sometimes, when talking about Brain Injury, uttering the word “Cure” draws the same surprised reaction as if you let slip a curse word.  Why?  Because the idea that a Brain Injury can be cured has been contrary to scientific belief that considered cure impossible because neurons would not re-grow.

However, the scientific and medical community now share BRIGHT’s belief that Brain Injury can be cured.  It is no longer a question of “if” the cure will be found, but “when“.

Please join BRIGHT to help fund the necessary research to make the cure happen sooner, rather then later.   A child’s future depends on it.