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Spinal Repair Unit
The brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerve are components of an immensely complex network of nerve fibre connections. These connections convey sensory information from the world outside, and from inside the body, they are the basis of storing memories and training, and ultimately deliver the messages by which the body is controlled and voluntary actions are carried out. When parts of this network are damaged the fibres are disconnected and functions are lost. The most obvious of these are stroke, spinal injury, and glaucoma. At present there is no way of restoring these connections, and the purpose of our research is to find a method to overcome the obstacles facing repair. Damage to the spinal cord shows the typical features of these injuries. Below the level of damage the patient has no sensation, in unable to move voluntarily, and loses control of bowel, bladder and sexual functions. These symptoms are due to damage to the nerve fibres travelling up and down the spinal cord. What offers hope for these individuals is that the nerve fibres survive on either side of the injury, and produce sprouts which attempt to cross the injury. Our concept of repair is to re-build a bridge to enable these sprouting nerve fibres to regain their original destinations and restore lost functions.
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