Not long ago, it was believed that our brains were incapable of change throughout our entire lifespan. It was thought that our brain’s structure and development were mostly permanent following infancy and childhood. Decades of research have revolutionized our comprehension of the human brain, allowing for better recovery outcomes for patients with neurological injuries.
Our central nervous system (CNS) is comprised of our brain and spinal cord. After injuries to our CNS, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), we now incorporate principles of neuroplasticity as a key to recovery.
What is neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain and spinal cord to continuously rewire new neuron pathways to enhance motor learning following an injury. This means that the brain has the capacity to form new neural circuits in response to ongoing activity. These connections are constantly becoming stronger or weaker in response to stimulation, learning, and experience.
Neuroplasticity came from the word neuro or neurons and plasticity, which refers to the brain’s malleability. So basically, neuroplasticity means the neuron’s ability to adjust, change, or become easily influenced or trained.
Furthermore, our brain’s flexibility for change allows new networks to enhance our movement and regain functional independence.
“Neuroplasticity is also the mechanism by which damaged brain relearns lost behavior in response to rehabilitation” – Kleim & Jones, 2008. We now understand our brain’s ability to adapt, and change can occur at any stage of life.
How can neuroplasticity benefit patients with neurological disorders?
Neurological disorders refer to conditions that affect the nervous system. Such diseases not only cause cognitive damage but also functional impairment, such as difficulties in moving, speaking, swallowing, and eye-hand coordination.
Fortunately, doctors and physical therapists can help treat these symptoms by boosting neuroplasticity. Once stimulated, it can help restore lost neuronal connections, establish proper brain signaling, and eliminate weak or damaged neural cells.
The right kind of treatment and rehabilitation programs can help promote neuroplasticity, thus resulting in the following benefits over time:
- Improvement of existing cognitive and mental abilities.
- Strengthening the brain’s ability to learn new things and adapt to changes.
- Restoring lost or declining neuronal connections.
- Boosting brain health and fitness.
However, the effectiveness of neuroplasticity can vary from person to person and may still depend on several factors. For example, a younger brain is much more moldable; thus, it can quickly adapt to new changes and show promising results in a short span of time than an older patient. Other variables that can influence neuroplasticity include:
- Aerobic exercise and resistance training: improve brain health, increase speed and signaling, improve spatial learning, and decrease DNA damage
- Intensity: frequency, duration, and difficulty
- Use it or lose it: failure to influence movement can lead to functional decline.
- Mood: mental health plays a vital role because stress, depression, and fear can negatively influence recovery
- Experience (Activity)
- Age: young brains are more plastic to change
- Cardiorespiratory function
How can Neulife Rehab support neuroplasticity?
Our model of care is based on a patient-centered focus. Intensive, focused rehabilitation helps restore function and maximize feedback/feedforward mechanisms to promote long-term memory. After all, research shows the earlier the care, the better the outcome.
Neuroplasticity is best targeted by intense repetitious training that challenges the body appropriately. Our skilled therapists focus not only on repetition but properly dosing activities to the skill level of our clients. Some of the therapeutic services we provide that can help promote neural plasticity include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Vocational activities
- Cognitive therapy
Patients will cycle through these therapy sessions every week to strengthen their physical and mental wellness. In between programs, it’s also important to prioritize rest as it’s a crucial part of improving the brain’s neural plasticity.
Research suggests that sleep helps in structural neural plasticity by encouraging dendritic growth. So our therapists make it a point to pace rehab programs and include sleep and rest in the patients’ schedule.
Our rehabilitation services help drive CNS reorganization through task-specific interventions. Movement is medicine because continuous practice enhances our brain’s ability to relearn patterns and form new pathways to return to independence.
Where to find the best traumatic brain injury rehabilitation center in Florida?
If you or someone you know can significantly benefit from our neuro rehabilitation services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team!
At NeuLife Rehab, we help keep your body and brain moving by providing high-quality physical therapy programs to patients with neurological conditions. We will work on reducing your pain, improving your strength, and getting you back to doing what you love.
Besides neuro rehab services, our board-certified physical therapists also specialize in providing the following rehabilitative services:
- Post acute rehab
- Stroke patient rehab
- Spinal cord injury rehabilitation
- Amputee rehabilitation
- And other catastrophic rehabilitation services
Contact us now at 800-626-3876, so we can start creating your plan of care! You can also make a referral by filling up an online form or learn more about our services at our website.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.