Unlike humans, bears seem to recover from bone loss caused by inactivity
Wild black bears may hold some secrets to preserving bone in humans.
Researchers at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Michigan Technological University recently studied the animals unique ability to rebound from significant bone loss suffered each year during hibernation. Their study, published in the March 2003 issue of Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, shows that wild black bears have a built-in coping mechanism that ensures that yearly hibernation doesnt leave the bears bones too fragile.
"In humans, disuse or immobilization as a result of bed rest or injury causes rapid bone loss, which may not be completely recoverable and can lead to weakness and fractures," said Henry J. Donahue, Ph.D., professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation, Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "With this study, our goal was to determine how bears recover from five to seven months of hibernation each year, which can cause them significant bone loss due to disuse."
Valerie Gliem | EurekAlert!
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