When someone suffers a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, their lives change in an instant. While some brain function may return through healing and rehabilitation, many sufferers plateau, and never return to their former selves.
However, hope is on the horizon thanks to functional neurosurgeons like Jocelyn Bloch. In Dr. Bloch's recent TEDx talk in Zurich, she explains how she and her colleagues discovered a particular kind of cells that may enable brains to help heal themselves.
Dr. Bloch and her colleagues have proven their theories through developing cell cultures using monkey brains, and reintroducing those cells. They did so with a monkey that didn't have any neurological issues, and discovered that the reintroduced cells disappeared. However, when the cells were reintroduced into a monkey that had damaged his brain, the cells remained. She and her colleagues believe that the cells remained to repair the damage.
Moreover, they performed this same experiment with a monkey that had suffered neurological damage, and had rehabilitated until he plateaued. Prior to reintroducing the cells, they had the monkey take a motor skills test. Then, they reintroduced the cells, and two months later, had the monkey take the same test. His progress was clearly and remarkably better.
Medical breakthroughs like this provide hope to those of us who care for sufferers of stroke or other brain injury.
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