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Spinal cord injury research suggests ability to regain function

When an individual in Massachusetts or elsewhere is subjected to an injury that brings damage to their spinal cord, circumstances are altered in a way that affects virtually every aspect of one's life. While the degree of damage varies, most patients with a spinal cord injury will suffer from the loss of multiple types of physical functionality. As those losses become apparent, many patients also suffer a measure of depression and/or anxiety.

Newly released research suggests that technological improvements could help some spinal cord patients to regain certain types of organ function. Specifically, the study looked at the use of a neuroprosthetic bladder in rats. The device works by using an electrode device to measure the level of urine in the prosthetic bladder.

When the bladder needs to be emptied, the electrodes can signal this need, and prompt the body to do so. Currently, many spinal cord injury patients have lost the nerve function that serves this purpose, and are unable to perceive when their bladder is full, or send the signal required to empty the bladder. As a result, urine can back up into the kidneys, causing serious problems that will lead to death if not alleviated by a catheter.

While this research is still a long way from being translated into practical application in human beings, these developments are still very exciting within the medical community. The ability to use technology to replace the communication function of damaged nerves sits squarely on the forefront of medical advancements. For Massachusetts spinal cord injury patients, this research offers the hope of regained function, and the ability to regain a measure of autonomy at the same time.

Source: Medical News Today, Spinal cord injury: potential urine control with prosthetic bladder, Catharine Paddock, Nov. 11, 2013

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