Light Pulses May Restore Muscle Activity

Sep 28, 2010
Outside Magazine

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Pulses of light may one day give fully restored muscle activity to people with cerebral palsy or paralyzed limbs, New Scientist reports.

Researchers at Stanford University are using light-activated proteins from photosynthetic algae to control nerve cells, according to New Scientist. They are testing the technique on anesthetized mice and measuring muscle contractions while stimulating the sciatic nerve with light-emitting diodes.

Light pulses fire nerves in the natural order, researchers told New Scientist, resulting in normal muscle movements, unlike electrical stimulation, which activates fast-twitch muscles before slow-twitch ones and results in jerky movements. If the technique translates to humans, that would mean new muscle functionality for people with cerebral palsy and paralysis.

--Nick Davidson

Filed To: Science

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