Tags: paralyzed | breathe | breakthrough

Breakthrough Allows Paralyzed to Breathe on Their Own

By    |   Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 03:09 PM

Case Western Reserve scientists have devised a procedure that allows paralyzed individual to breathe on their own by restoring function to airway muscles.
 
The approach, outlined at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience this week, has been shown to restore breathing power even to individuals who have been paralyzed for more than a year. The breakthrough offers hope that one day patients with severe spinal cord injuries will be able to breathe again without the assistance of a ventilator.
 
Lead researcher Philippa M. Warren said the research represents a critical step forward in efforts to reverse even long-term paralysis of muscles within the diaphragm that are activated by nerve fibers that extend from the upper part of the brain stem.
 
When those fibers are damaged in the spinal cord, electrical signals from the brain cannot activate muscles that control vital functions.

“We show that respiratory paralysis can be reversed at long intervals after spinal cord injury,” said Warren, a neuroscience researcher at MetroHealth Medical Center. “This has the potential to alleviate the long suffering of currently injured patients, improving their quality, and potentially length, of life.”

For the study, Case Western researchers devised a technique to treat spinal cord injuries in laboratory animals with a specially designed enzyme that reopens connections between the brain and respiratory muscles, effectively allowing the majority of them to regain function many months after injury.
While these results are encouraging, more research is required to perfect the treatment before it can be tried in human patients. 

“This may have huge implications for the treatment of sufferers with spinal cord injury,” Warren said. “Our work offers new hope that it might be possible in the future to repair paralyzed respiratory muscle activity, even at long time periods after severe spinal injury, allowing patients to breathe normally again.”

 

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Case Western Reserve scientists have devised a procedure that allows paralyzed individual to breathe on their own by restoring function to airway muscles.
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2014-09-18
Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 03:09 PM
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