New methods and strategies in neuroimaging were briefly documented in this article. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy can depict various metabolites and their concentrations in brain parenchyma and even images for some metabolites can be obtained. Functional MRI as well as functional PET is well known as a tool for exploring cerebral functional anatomy. Many amazing results were revealed in the past literature using these novel functional tools. Diffusion weighted images are used for detection of cerebral infarction and tractgraphy. PET can also depict neuro-transmitter imaging in vivo, which is useful for Parkinson's syndrome, dementia and psychiatric diseases. These new modalities will become increasingly significant in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and radiology during this century.
Recent progress in the field of neurophysiology has revealed that locomotor-like electromyographic activity can be induced in paralyzed lower limb muscles in human by a particular mode of stimulation to peripheral receptors. This fact is supposed to be an indirect evidence for existence of the central pattern generator (CPG) in human spinal cord. On the basis of these neurophysiological background, a new type of locomotor training, such as the treadmill stepping with a partial body weight unloading, for spinal cord injured (SCI) patients has been developed, and certain benefit of such training to locomotor restoration has been reported. Together with animal studies, researchers in this field are now paying more attention on plasticity in spinal neural circuits. In this short review recent studies on the spinal CPG and plasticity in human spinal neural circuits are summarized and discussed with potential benefit of those new findings for locomotor restoration in SCI patients.
Joint contracture is a consequence of immobilization or various traumas, and is one of the most prevalent syndromes encountered in rehabilitation medicine. Histological and biochemical changes of matrix components occur, and their biomechanical characters, which reflect surrounding mechanical environments, respond to a newer condition. Quantitative studies have been accumulated to clarify the relationship between mechanical stress and tissue response. The research results show that low-load constant tension is effective to grow connective tissues and is a useful treatment for fixed joint contracture. The basic concept of treatment was prevention, and induction of tissue reaction with prolonged stretch. The program of treatment consists of positioning, ROM-exercise and functional splinting, which including extraskeletal fixation, dynamic sprint and other devices. For further improvement of treatment, new corrective device and therapeutic equipment will be required on the basis of further understanding about pathomechanisms of contracture development.