Researchers have made some important steps forward in discovering why it is that nerves damaged in spinal cord injuries don’t grow back. In 2018, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO published a study that detailed the ways that cells are able to regenerate themselves. Neurons in the peripheral nervous system regenerate after an injury. Neurons in the central nervous system–the brain and spinal cord–do not. Other than that, the neurons are identical.
Valeria Cavalli, Young Mi Oh, and their team examined dorsal root ganglion neurons. These cells have long axons, which connect the neuron to the rest of the body. One side of the axon connects to the central nervous system and does not regenerate if cut. The other side connects to cells in the periphery–the arms and legs, for example. This side will regenerate if cut. Interestingly, the scientists found that not only do some genes need to turn on for regeneration to occur, a large number have to turn off. Essentially, the damaged neuron has to stop communicating with the rest of the body and focus on healing. Since communication is the main job of the neurons, damaged neurons transition to an immature state to heal. When healing is complete, they then transition back to their mature state.
Scientists have theorized that neurons might have to revert to a less mature state in order to heal. This study shows several of the mechanisms that allow that to happen. They found important genes and neurological processes that are necessary for regeneration. They also found out the importance of the timing of these processes. The next step is to gain a more detailed understanding of the genes involved. Then researchers can test hypotheses that may help people heal from spinal cord injuries.
Call Us to Find out How EMG/NCS Testing Can Help After Spinal Cord Injuries
We look forward to the day that scientists have a better understanding of how to make central nervous system neurons health themselves. Until then, we’ll continue to rely on EMG/NCS testing to come up with diagnoses and treatments to minimize pain from spine and back injuries.
Contact Precision Medical Group to learn about how EMG/NCS testing can help you.