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Four-Legged Medical Models

Animals serve as useful models in medical research—but they also serve as models for our anthropocentric fantasies. On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle reports that researchers were able to “restore locomotion in paralyzed rats using a combination of nerve stimulation and engaging the mind by having the rats complete simple tasks.” The rats, outfitted with a “support jacket” to provide external stimulation, learned to walk and even sprint to their favorite snack. Dr. Dolittle writes “the nerves had actually reorganized to create new connections around the injury site” and “these new research findings may one day help paralyzed humans fully regain the ability to walk.” Meanwhile, on Respectful Insolence, Orac examines another method of healing animals…with mystical tranfusions of energy. Orac writes “In a way, dogs are smarter than humans in that they don’t fool themselves into believing that hand motions are anything more than hand motions.” But that won’t keep Cesar Milan from sticking them with needles.

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