Scientists Say Rewiring Helps Mice Paralyzed by Spinal Injuries Walk Again

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Scientists said they've found a way to enable mice paralyzed by spinal cord injuries walk again, according to a study published in this week's edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles say mice given partial spinal cord injuries were able to regain the ability to walk within eight to 10 weeks, although not as well as before the injury, according to a Reuters report.

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Spinal cord damage obstructs the pathways the brain uses to transit messages to the nerve cells that control walking. Current thinking is that the only way someone with a spinal cord injury could walk again is to regrow the long nerve highways linking the brain and base of the spinal cord.

But scientists from UCLA found that detouring the "walking" messages around the injury helped the mice regain some mobility.

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Using a traffic analogy Dr Michael Sofroniew, lead author and a professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told Reuters, "If you have a big freeway going somewhere, then that's the fastest route to take. If that gets blocked and you can't get through, an alternative way might be simply to get off the freeway and use shorter interconnected side streets to get around."