Research Alert

Thanks to advances in health care in the past several decades, more than 90% of people who have had a spinal cord injury survive beyond the first year. The focus now is managing the long-term impact of spinal cord injury on things like problem solving, learning and memory. Investigators explored how the brain changes blood flow during a memory task in individuals with a spinal cord injury. They found that although memory was not much different in individuals with spinal cord injury, it did improve after six months of rowing exercise with electrical stimulation of the paralyzed legs. This same improvement was also seen in brain blood flow during memory tasks. This might mean that problems with memory and problem solving after a spinal cord injury may be because of the lack of exercise from immobility. This shows that regular exercise is important for a healthy brain in those with spinal cord injury and may also be true for other people who do not get enough exercise.