Glossary of Terms
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Actin A filamentous protein that is a key component of the framework of the cell.
Allodynia A disorder in which sensations that normally do not hurt become painful.
Analgesic A class of drugs that relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.
Apoptosis Programmed cell death, or cell suicide, which is part of the natural life cycle of a cell. Apoptosis can be triggered by age, injury, or unknown factors. When the cell senses that it's not healthy, it goes through a series of changes, finally chopping its DNA and proteins into small packets that are cleaned up by microglia.
Astrocytes Cells that nourish and support spinal neurons.
Autonomic dysreflexia A potentially fatal complication of spinal cord injuries that involves episodes of extreme hypertension and sometimes leads to intracranial hemorrhage or stroke. It occurs in 90% of people with cervical or high thoracic cord injuries.
Axon The long tail of a neuron that transmits electrical impulses from the cell body.
Axonal Transport The mechanism that enables neurons to send proteins and chemical messages back and forth along axons.
Catecholamines Chemicals produced by organs that are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. These substances are involved in the fight-or-flight response to stress.
Cell Adhesion Molecules (CAMs) Proteins that adhere to the surface of an elogating axon and direct it to its final address in the brain or spinal cord.
Central Nervous System The brain and spinal cord.
Central Pattern Generator (CPG) A network of spinal neurons that, when stimulated by neurotransmitters, cause the muscles of the legs to move in rhythmic stepping motions.
Cervical The high-level nervous structure of the spinal cord responsible for controlling the neck muscles, diaphragm, shoulders, wrists, triceps and fingers.
Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans Molecules that are a major component of the scar that forms at the site of a spinal cord injury and inhibit axon regeneration. They may act on their own or, because of their large size and negative charge, may attract other growth inhibitors to the lesion - or both.
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