View Full Version : A question about nerves

1st March 2011, 17:05
Hi all,

I think I already know the answer to this but was looking for some clarification. :confused:

Say a cure for MND was found today. Can nerves lost through MND reestablish themselves so some if not all function is restored? So if a person has lost the use of their arms can that be regained - over time?

I'm sort of thinking not ... but hey I could be wrong!

My brain is filled up with so much MND information I think the answer to this question has got lost in the filing system.


1st March 2011, 18:23
Not sure if full re-inervation could happen to a completely dead nerve, however as the underlying muscle doesn't die and only atrophies then those muscles would recover where a nervre was re-established. Some people have spoken of improvements in their condition so this may happen, I just haven't seen any medical proof of it yet..... (see related thread about cured people that's running)

1st March 2011, 21:53
Hi Matt,

The problem is that the connection between our brain and the affected muscle is broken. It is like when a wire burns out in an electrical circuit. For a cure to take place, a new connection would hve to be grown.so signals from our brain can arirve at a muscle motor unit and give it instructions.

In the thread on stem cells you will find that Prof. Pam Shaw told a patient that even if one could grow motor neurons by stem cells in the spinal cord that would not fix the broken connection problem. The path between our brain and the actual muscle is like a complicated jigsaw and not easy to learn about.

At this point, I do not know if the connection is simply broken, like one link in a chain, or if the whole conncection is destroyed. A broken link has the possibility of a repair but replacing the whole connection would seem to be much more difficult.

The answers are out there, so we must have faith that answers will be revealed. The solution is already in existence and just awaiting discovery.


1st March 2011, 22:04
Hi Matt, Don't give up hope on a 'cure', we have yet to really understand what is happening and what the 'cures' are.

My studying - and I stand to be corrected! - of the brain and MND symptoms is that the muscles are driven by the AXON's which is coming from the Neurons in the brain. The Neuron is like a ball shaped jelly fish with DENDRITES eminating out and the neuron then sends a signal to another neuron via teh gap (synopsis) from the Axon to the other neuron dendrites, there is a load of chemical reactions to achieve this transmission so who knows, we should identify some assistive components. I am researching a variety of brain activity instigators and I believe the body can heal itself but needs the trigger. All the best Arthur

2nd March 2011, 16:16
Thank you for the replies.

Don't worry Arthur, I'm not giving up hope yet and Clive ... as you said the jigsaw is a very complicated one. It seems my question is not an easy one to answer. It sounds more positive if a link in the chain is broken rather than a whole circuit. But can a whole circuit be regrown by the body... who knows. I suspect more research, or a cure is required before we know the answer.

2nd March 2011, 17:38
Matt, there seems to be an anomaly of the analysis of what has happened with MND, in that some say there is irreparable damage.

I have PLS and Bulbar problems, my query is - if there is irreparable damage how come my voice changes? If it is severly damaged it is gone for good - but I get good periods and bad periods and it is NOT muscle fatigue in fact the more I talk the easier it gets! This to me implies that the brain is saying 'all-right then lets get more of the Axon control working' - we have so much to learn.

With all due respect the 'experts' they say "don't fatigue what you have left" and "no you cannot strengthen the remaining muscles", my view is that I am experiencing the opposite and talk away while walking my dog!

Apologies for going on but do we really know what is going on?



ps I am trying other approaches but it is not in order to make this public if you wish to contact me privately OK.

2nd March 2011, 20:14
Hi Arthur,

I know what you mean about good and bad times. My mum is always saying how weird it is that her voice can be good one day and rubbish the next. Sometimes when I call her on the phone it just sounds like she has a heavy cold but every word is clear (ish!). Then other days I am having to try and pick out individual words to try and make a sentence. Very strange!

I do wonder if resting is any good. There is a person called Stuart on the Build Forum (think he's called Countyboy on here?) who has had MND since 1997 and he swears by forcing his body to move muscles that are no longer working well. I have told my mum that she should try and do the same ... of course as long as it doesn't tire her out. For example, if her left arm is feeling weak try and raise it that little bit higher using her mind alone. Maybe this encourages the brain to use an alternate connection. It can be a powerful thing! I suppose the only problem with this is when there are no more connections to use.

Thanks for the private message offer.


2nd March 2011, 23:11
Hi Arthur,

I think that the connection that gets damaged is between the brain and the junctions with the muscle rather than at the muscle end. Some of these connections are very long and they take the form of a series of chain links laid end to end. The links are not attached to each other, but disconnected from each other. This column of links is contained within a tube. Messages are initiated by an electric pulse to the first link in the chain which results is that link discharging a chemical at the other end. This chemical discharge cause an electrical signal at the front end of the next link resulting in a chemical discharge at the back end and this is repeated over and over until the signal reaches the axons that fire the muscle.

A beakdown anywhere in these long neurotransmission connections would knock out the motor neuron. If it is only a broken connection and all the remaining links are still intact and capable of working there is every possibility that a means of repair can be discovered.

The seat of the problem appears to be in the anterior horn cells, which is where the connections to the brain exit the spinal cord and proceed to the muscle motor units.


2nd March 2011, 23:28
Hi Matt,

It is very important to move our muscles through the full range of movement to prevent them from contracting. If your mum cannot manage that on her own someone must move her arms gently, without force, several times each day to maintain mobility. The muscles have to be gently stretched to the fullest extent possible without causing pain. Over a few days the amount of movement possible will improve.

I am extremely fortunate that I am able to go to an excercise studio equipped with several machines that exercise most of my muscles once a week. Each of the machines work my muscles 45 times and I am able to use eleven out of the fifteen machines, each one working different parts of my body. This is at Ware, in Hertfordshire and I believe it is the only one in the country. My local branch of MNDA is funding this for me, for which I am very grateful.


Robyn Copley-Hirst
3rd March 2011, 14:46
Hi Matt (and everyone :))

I saw this question and thought it was a really interesting... if complicated one. So I asked our research dept. for a response on it which I'll just copy in below:

Hi Robyn,

The answer is:

Theoretically yes – over time. If a cure was found that could grow and reconnect motor neurones, while also stopping the many different things that go wrong in the cell (see ‘what causes MND’ in the research section of our website), then it could be possible to regain use of limbs. However, neurones grow at 3mm a day, and trying to grow a lost neurone that can be a metre long would obviously take a long time. There is also the issue with signposting the nerve cell to connect to the right muscle. In the womb, this process is mediated by a number of chemicals that direct each nerve cell in different directions at different points in the body. These signals are lost once the nerve cells are fully developed. So, researchers would also need to find a way to recreate this symphony of chemicals throughout the body.

Our stem cell information sheet explains the background to the challenges that researchers face through growing motor neurones.

More realistically speaking, at this point in time, it is easier and more effective for researchers to look for a treatment that can slow down, and potentially stop the progression of MND. To do this, they look for treatments that target specific causes – which is why it’s important to keep studying the causes of MND to be able to identify new targets.

I hope this helps and adds to the discussion – I’ve also written about how a symphony of chemicals help to define what cells turn into in the developing embryo, which is linked to this in explaining the complexities of how nerve cells are ‘born’ in the body. It can be found on our blog. You may or may not want to link to it if you think it’s related and worthy to readers!

Kelly Johnstone
Research information co-ordinator

Robyn Copley-Hirst
3rd March 2011, 14:56
The link mentioned is the Research Blog... found here (http://mndresearch.wordpress.com/)

The written section Kelly mentioned starts: Why are the subtypes of motor neurones important to MND research?When we first start to develop as embryos in the womb, chemical messages are used as cues to tell our cells what to turn in to. At the start of this process our cells can be thought of as blank canvases that have the potential to turn into any type of cell. Mixtures of ‘colourful’ chemicals are then used to create a unique ‘hue’ signal in order for the cell to know what to become...

The rest can be read by following the link if the intro I've copied over sounds interesting to anyone.

Best Regards,

3rd March 2011, 21:32
Hi Robyn

Thank you for taking the time to involve the research team. Kelly has provided a very clear and concise answer to the question. Brilliant! Let's cross our fingers and toes that a treatment comes along soon to halt the disease. The body can then take over repairing and hopefully reconnecting the body.


Robyn Copley-Hirst
4th March 2011, 11:54
No problem, Matt. I thought it was a really interesting question and there had been some great input from other knowledgable members who were also askkng further questions on it.

Research always take the time to answer questions in great detail in what is a really complex area!

I hope that others find it useful too.


4th March 2011, 19:32
Hi All,

The process I am witnessing is:

Atrophy for 12-24 months
Muscle then contracts as it reinnervates for days to weeks
Motor cortex learns how to harmonise the muscle with deep sleep

... and this process is concurrent in hundreds of muscle groups, no wonder I'm disorientated and have headaches.

Would MND research agree this is the likely process of restoration rather than finding a cure?

Best wishes


4th March 2011, 22:52
Thanks Robyn for posting the input from Kelly and the link to the Research Blog. It is so hard to find good information so I was very interested in all of it.


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