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Exp Neurol. 2012 May;235(1):18-25. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.12.018. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

Treatments to restore respiratory function after spinal cord injury and their implications for regeneration, plasticity and adaptation.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) often leads to impaired breathing. In most cases, such severe respiratory complications lead to morbidity and death. However, in the last few years there has been extensive work examining ways to restore this vital function after experimental spinal cord injury. In addition to finding strategies to rescue breathing activity, many of these experiments have also yielded a great deal of information about the innate plasticity and capacity for adaptation in the respiratory system and its associated circuitry in the spinal cord. This review article will highlight experimental SCI resulting in compromised breathing, the various methods of restoring function after such injury, and some recent findings from our own laboratory. Additionally, it will discuss findings about motor and CNS respiratory plasticity and adaptation with potential clinical and translational implications.

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