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What Is the Anterior Horn?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
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The anterior horn is part of the gray matter in the spine that goes along the front of the cord structure. The spinal cord progresses along with the spinal column to form the main spinal element of the body's central nervous system. The anterior horn is also called the anterior cornu, and other medical experts may also call it either the anterior column or the ventral horn.

As part of the greater spinal cord, the anterior horn has various motor neurons that help transmit critical signals within the nervous system. Many of these have to do with touch and sensation. The soft grey matter of these spinal elements is flexible but vulnerable to some kinds of decay.

Some diseases affect the anterior horn and elements around it. A variety of illnesses that can be related to the spinal cord area include various kinds of muscular atrophy, as well as viral illnesses like West Nile. Doctors may observe a patient for related conditions that could harm the nervous system and the spinal cord in particular.

Doctors might also study the areas around the anterior horn and spinal cord for evidence of damage after an event causing partial or total paralysis. The spinal area is one of the very vulnerable parts of the human body, and the anterior horn and similar structures must remain solvent for relaying messages to the brain. Medical experts often focus on the spine after an accident.

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Physical therapists may actively help a rehabilitating patient deal with issues related to the anterior horn and spinal cord. Experienced and trained medical professionals can explain more about how this element of the spine can affect motor skills or motor development. Continuing research will deal with how to rehabilitate or reconstruct spinal elements after an accident, injury, or illness.

As part of the most modern research around the anterior horn, scientists are looking at how various motor neurons behave in clinical trials. The behavior of alpha and beta motor neurons could eventually help reveal more about how cellular aspects of the spinal cord affect regular motor processes and other human processes. This could bring more expertise to the world of chiropractic care and other kinds of medical intervention that help patients combat nervous system issues, spinal or muscle atrophy, and general loss of motor ability.

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