Low-pressure micro-mechanical re-adaptation device sustainably and effectively improves locomotor recovery from complete spinal cord injury
Traumatic spinal cord injuries result in impairment or even complete loss of motor, sensory and autonomic functions. Recovery after complete spinal cord injury is very limited even in animal models receiving elaborate combinatorial treatments. Recently, we described an implantable microsystem (microconnector) for low-pressure re-adaption of severed spinal stumps in rat. Here we investigate the long-term structural and functional outcome following microconnector implantation after complete spinal cord transection. Re-adaptation of spinal stumps supports formation of a tissue bridge, glial and vascular cell invasion, motor axon regeneration and myelination, resulting in partial recovery of motor-evoked potentials and a thus far unmet improvement of locomotor behaviour. The recovery lasts for at least 5 months. Despite a late partial decline, motor recovery remains significantly superior to controls. Our findings demonstrate that microsystem technology can foster long-lasting functional improvement after complete spinal injury, providing a new and effective tool for combinatorial therapies.
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Supported by funds from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research Germany (BMBF) and the German Legal Accident Insurance (DGUV).