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  • Programmed Stem Cells Grow Axons, Connect With Brain in Rats With SCI

    Neurons developed from adult human stem cells and grafted into rats with spinal injuries have produced nerve cells with axons that have grown "virtually over the entire length" of the rat's central nervous system. The success of the cells, derived from an 86-year-old man, support the idea that "intrinsic neuronal mechanisms" can overcome the barriers to growth associated with the injured adult spinal cord.

    "While many experimental efforts have attempted to overcome the inhibitory nature of the [central nervous system], a cell in the proper growth state can still extend axons, even in this inhibitory milieu," said senior author Mark Tusznyski, MD, PhD. The successful growth was reported online in the August 7 issue of Neuron (abstract and video abstract only available for free).

    The procedure began with the conversion of skin cells from a healthy 86-year-old man into induced pluripotent stems cells (IPSCs), which can be programmed to become nearly any kind of cell. After programming the IPSCs to become nerve cells, the cells were grafted into rats with 2-week-old spinal injuries.

    At the 3-month mark, researchers examined the injury sites to find mature neurons and axonal growth that even extended to the brain and connected with existing rat neurons. Despite the growth and connections, researchers were not able to achieve recovery of function in the rats.

    Though the growth is encouraging, Tusznyski said, "many questions remain" about how to target and control that growth. "Can this, for example, be shaped by rehabilitation?" he asked.

    APTA has several resources on managing patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). Offerings include a clinical summary in PTNow, continuing education courses in the APTA Learning Center, and a "pocket guide" on physical fitness for individuals with SCI.

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.

    Free Webinar Promotes Falls Prevention Initiative

    Learn how you can participate in Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD), coming this year on September 23, by attending a free webinar on August 21 hosted by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The webinar will explore:

    • What's new in falls prevention programming and what’s working in communities nationwide
    • How organizations are integrating falls prevention programming into their other offerings
    • Strategies to recruit older adult participants
    • New initiatives for partnering with emergency medical services, community health workers, and others

    More than 40 states are part of a coalition to address this public health issue; many are working closely with physical therapists as key contributors to reducing falls. This year's theme, Strong Today, Falls Free Tomorrow, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population. APTA is among the professional associations and federal agencies that constitute the Falls Free© Initiative. Find ideas for observing FPAD on NCOA's website, including this infographic with 6 steps older adults can take to prevent a fall.

    APTA has a wealth of resources on balance and falls, most of them accessible via the association's Balance and Falls webpage. Also, find a clinical practice guideline on falls and fall injuries in the older adult and a clinical summary on falls risk in community-dwelling elderly people in PTNow.

    PTNow Hosts Google Hangout on Down Syndrome Clinical Summary

    Get firsthand information and answers to your own questions on how to apply PTNow's clinical summary on Down syndrome when PTNow hosts a Google Hangout scheduled for August 28.

    Kathy Martin, PT, DHS, author of the clinical summary, will answer your questions along with Tracy Stoner, PT, DPT, PCS, a pediatric physical therapist in the Department of Physical Therapy at University of Delaware and a research coordinator at Drexel University. The hangout will be moderated by Mary Tischio Blackinton, PT, EdD, CEEAA, GCS, PTNow associate editor for social media.

    Google Hangouts are not live, but recorded and made available shortly after they occur, so questions need to be submitted in advance. There are several ways to forward your questions to the hangout—just be sure to get them in before a deadline of August 25. You can:

    APTA Members Can Save Big on Back-to-School Needs

    Back-to-school shopping just got easier with APTA member value programs.

    APTA members can save an average of 17% on all online or in-store purchases at Office Depot, which has discounted 93,000 products below retail prices. Plus, first-time users receive an additional 15% off online orders of $50 or more. To start saving, download a store discount card or shop online at http://apta.ctcshares.com.

    Have additional back-to-school needs? The APTA Online Mall gives you cash back for online purchases from hundreds of retailers including Target, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Zappos, and more. Register for an account and start saving today.