a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 598.3 

Guest: Dr. Kristine Schmidt, assoc. Prof. biomedicine, U. of Texas at Austin 

Topic: Regenerating nerve conductor 

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: Helping nerves regenerate...coming up... 

SPOT: IN A FLASH... a video with structured curriculum tells kids the truth about gunshot injuries. For schools, churches, community groups... Call 800-332-6362. 

NEMA: When someone is seriously injured and nerves are cut, doctors graft a vein between the nerve ends as a conduit for reconnection. Dr. Kristine Schmidt was part of an MIT research group that knew electrical fields enhance nerve regeneration...and had new kinds of plastics that conduct electricity... 

SCHMIDT: What we thought was, "hey, it would be neat if we could combine our expertise and use these electrically conducting polymers to specifically localize an electrical stimulus to a regenerating nerve", something we could actually implant into the body and then directly stimulate this nerve to regenerate.  

NEMA: So, they made a tube of this polymer to use as a conduit... 

SCHMIDT: We essentially cut the nerve and suture one end of the nerve into one end of that tube, and the other end into the other end of the tube. And then monitored the progression of regeneration from one end to the other. So, the nerve actually regenerates from the end that's closest to the spinal cord to the other end...I mean they don't grow together, the two ends don't grow together. You have a progression of regeneration from one end to the other.  

NEMA: The process worked better and faster than other methods of nerve regeneration...and is another promising step toward healing those with serious nerve injury. I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.