Every person undergoes degeneration of the spine as he or she ages. When the spine degenerates, there is compression in the bones and this causes a flood of problems, which mostly include difficulty in mobility. One of the most common repercussions of spinal degeneration is numbness in the arms. People also find difficulty in walking. Bladder function is commonly affected due to spinal degeneration and compression. The latest research has been conducted with an intention to find out what changes happen in the brain when the spinal bones are compressed, which in turn results in dexterity problems. The research has been undertaken by researchers from University of Western Ontario. The lead researchers of the study are Izabela Kowalczyk, Dr. Neil Duggal and Robert Bartha. The research revealed changes in the brain, especially in the motor cortex region.
According to Dr. Neil Duggal, who is an associate professor at Western’s Schilich School of Medicine and Dentistry in the department of clinical neurological sciences, studying the changes in the brain can help doctors analyze the extent of benefits that the patient can gain by undergoing surgery. Not all patients who go under the knife are equally benefited by the surgery. While some experience improvement in the condition, a lot of other either remain without relief or experience further deterioration. Robert Bartha is an imaging scientist at Schulich’s Robarts Research Institute. Izabela Kowalczyk is a PhD scholar pursuing research.
Tesla functional MRI Scan was used to study the neural functions of the participants of the study when they performed simple activities such as tapping their fingers. The test gave precise results about the part of the brain that is involved in the function. It was found that the certain parts of the brain did not function optimally in these patients. The test also helped in localizing the area that was involved in the function. Further tests in the form of proton-magnetic resonance spectroscopy were conducted in order to find out the exact metabolism that takes place in the brain when such activities are performed. The intention of the study was to find out if there was any change in the levels of brain enzymes when the spine was compressed.
It was found that N-acetaspartate to creatine reduced by 15% in patients who suffered from spinal compression. This enzyme is found in reduced levels in two cases – either when neurons die or when a person suffers neural injury. According to Bartha, this change is pretty significant. Studying this activity in the brain can help doctors assess the level of treatment and surgery required.