U of A researchers find way to speed up nerve regrowth
Published in Tech News.
By ADRIANNA MacPHERSON
A University of Alberta researcher has found a treatment that increases the speed of nerve regeneration by three to five times, which may one day lead to much better outcomes for trauma surgery patients.
“We use the term ‘time is muscle,’” said Christine Webber, an associate professor in the U of A’s anatomy division and a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. “If that regrowing nerve can’t get to the muscle fast enough, you’re not going to get a functional repair.”
Peripheral nerve injury occurs in about three per cent of trauma victims. The slow nature of nerve regeneration means that often muscles atrophy before the nerve has a chance to grow and reconnect.
That’s where conditioning electrical stimulation (CES) comes in.
Webber and her collaborators—plastic surgery resident and former PhD student Jenna-Lynn Senger, and physical rehabilitation clinician Ming Chan—have examined CES for animal nerve regeneration in many previous publications. The process involves electrically stimulating a nerve at the fairly low rate of 20 hertz for one hour. A week after the CES treatment, nerve surgery is done, and the nerves grow back three to five times faster than if the surgery was done without CES.