Optogenetic Restoration of Motor Function After Spinal Cord Injury

Mr. Peter Grahn, a third-year student in the neurobiology of disease track at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, illuminates an article he coauthored appearing in the February 2015 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, where he describes a rapidly developing innovation for stimulating or inhibiting neurons that may provide selective restoration of function in patients with spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury can be defined as a loss of communication between the brain and the body due to disrupted pathways within the spinal cord. Although many promising molecular strategies have emerged to reduce secondary injury and promote axonal regrowth, there is still no effective cure, and recovery of function remains limited.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) represents a strategy developed to restore motor function without the need for regenerating severed spinal pathways. Despite its technological success, however, FES has not been widely integrated into the lives of spinal cord injury survivors.

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In this full access review, we briefly discuss the limitations of existing FES technologies. Additionally, we discuss how optogenetics, a rapidly evolving technique used primarily to investigate select neuronal populations within the brain, may eventually be used to replace FES as a form of therapy for functional restoration after spinal cord injury.

FULL OPEN ACCESS: Optical Stimulation for Restoration of Motor Function After Spinal Cord Injury

Grant Support: This work was supported by a grant from The Grainger Foundation (K.H.L.) and grant R21 NS087320 from the National Institutes of Health (J.L.L.).

Wireless control of intraspinal microstimulation in a rodent model of paralysis

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