Cortical Nerve Function in Former Amputees Remains Poor Decades After Reconstructive Surgery
Study explores the impact of hand amputation, reattachment and transplant on brain cells
Researchers have found that the nerve cells (neurons) controlling sensation and movement of the hands show injury-induced changes for years after hand amputation, reattachment or transplant. The small study is the first of its kind to non-invasively explore the health and function of the cortical neurons (neuronal integrity) in these populations at the neurochemical level. The sensory and motor components of a hand’s nerves are severed during hand amputation, resulting in a dramatic reduction in stimulation in the brain’s cerebral cortex, which controls these functions. Cortical areas formerly devoted to the missing hand undergo substantial functional reorganization as a result of this nerve loss. Little, however, is known about neurochemical changes at this level and the potential to reverse these changes with reconstructive surgery.
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