Spinal cord injury disconnects communication between the brain and the spinal cord, disrupting control over part of the body.
Studying the mechanisms of recovery, Leuven researcher Aya Takeoka (NERF) found that a specific type of neuronal feedback from sites below the injury plays a crucial role during early recovery and for maintaining regained motor functions.
"Following spinal cord injury, disrupted neuronal pathways can no longer provide sufficiently strong signals to the spinal networks below the injury, often leading to permanent and devastating motor impairment," explains prof. Aya Takeoka from NERF (NeuroElectronics Research Flanders), an interdisciplinary research center empowered by VIB, KU Leuven and imec.
Her lab studies the mechanisms of motor learning and control, including how motor functions recover after injury.
"Incomplete injuries, where only part of the neuronal connections are damaged, frequently recover spontaneously," adds Takeoka.
"We know that activating a very specific type of sensory feedback pathway plays a crucial role during rehabilitative training, promoting the formation of detour circuits.