30 November 2012
People with spinal cord injuries were temporarily able to use their hands when researchers used non-invasive stimulation.
Research published in the journal Current Biology tested the new method in 19 people with chronic cervical spinal cord injury and 14 uninjured people.
Treatment was customised to each individual, pairing magnetic stimulation delivered to a specific part of the motor cortex with electrical stimulation to peripheral nerves found in the wrist.
One hundred paired pulses were delivered every ten seconds for approximately 20 minutes. This produced volleys of neural activity.
After the treatment, most of the participants were able to use more force with their hand muscles.
Furthermore, this translated into better manual dexterity when they were asked to grasp and manipulate small pegs with their index fingers and thumbs.
Monica Perez of the University of Pittsburgh explained: "Human electrophysiology can be a powerful tool for developing therapies.
"We need to explore new targets to improve rehabilitation strategies by taking advantage of our knowledge in human physiology and their mechanisms."
Posted by Edward Bartel
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