About this Research Topic
Which mechanisms are involved in the recovery of motor function after spinal cord injury (SCI)? Experimental approaches to enhance motor function after SCI are typically based on protecting neural tissue, promoting regeneration, and/or facilitating plasticity. Many of these approaches elicit anatomical and physiological changes in the spinal cord or brain and some of them result in enhanced motor performance. This Research Topic will focus on discussing the latest advancements associated with neural protection, regeneration, and plasticity that result in motor function improvements in animals and humans with SCI. Tissue protection can be elicited by pharmacological interventions which may curb the loss of neural cells after SCI and so limit the extent of secondary damage. The involvement of neuroprotective treatments in motor function is mostly indirect but they incontrovertibly contribute to recovery. Tissue regeneration can be achieved in the injured spinal cord using cell transplantation paradigms or pharmacological interventions. These regenerative strategies result in an increase in axonal growth. Recent research has begun to unravel our understanding about the role of regenerated axons in motor function restoration. Plasticity in neural tissue can be facilitated using different approaches. Humans with SCI may be able to combine different sources of sensory inputs to control motor tasks that cannot be performed with voluntary drive alone. Neuroplasticity leading to motor recovery has been achieved using noninvasive and invasive paradigms involving stimulation of the spinal cord and/or motor cortex. The interaction of brain and spinal cord might be an important contributor to anchoring the effects of therapeutic plasticity-based strategies after SCI; strengthening synaptic connections has been identified as a novel target to promote functional recovery. A review of the latest molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of neural protection, regeneration and plasticity leading to motor recovery will provide an updated framework exploring the contribution of mechanistic-driven information to future repair strategies for people with SCI.
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