Neuroplasticity: Movement is a Medicine

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 was 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 a 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. Our brain is the command center of our body, and neurons are different cells which specialize in communicating feedback from your body to your mind. Our brains have 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. Our brain’s flexibility for change allow for 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 brains ability to adapt and change can occur at any stage of life.
How can Neulife Rehab support neuroplasticity?

Our model of care is based on patient-centered focus. Intensive, focused rehabilitation helps restore function and maximize feedback/feedforward mechanisms to promote long term memory. 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 activity to the skill level of our clients. Our rehabilitation services help drive CNS reorganization through task specific interventions. Movement is a medicine because continuous practice enhances our brains ability to relearn patterns and form new pathways to return to independence.

Variables that influence neuroplasticity:
• Aerobic exercise and resistance training: improve brain health, increase speed and signaling, improve spatial learning, and decreased DNA damage
• Intensity: frequency, duration, and difficulty
• Repetition
• 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
• Sleep
• Hormones
• Cardiorespiratory function
• Pharmaceuticals
• Disease

Parkinson’s disease, how can Neulife assist you?

Parkinson’s disease is currently classified as the second most common degenerative brain disorder affecting 7 to 10 million people worldwide.  Within the United States, Parkinson’s affects 1 million Americans. Parkinson’s disease is primarily related to a disturbance in dopamine within the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that affects controlled movement, sleep, ability to learn and retain information, mood, attention, and decision making.

Parkinson’s disease includes four cardinal signs and symptoms. Resting tremor is typically seen, which is a shaking or oscillating movement.  Next bradykinesia, which is a slowness of movement.  Rigidity is an increase in resistance to passive motion and feeling stiff. And lastly, postural instability which manifests in several ways affecting balance, coordination, and individuals may demonstrate a shuffling walking pattern.

Neulife Rehab empowers clients to manage, control, and progress toward their goals through fun and novel interventions by certified therapists in all disciplines including: physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health. Studies show results are better when treatment is started early. Our holistic treatment approach through physical, dietary, and mental wellbeing assist in enhancing our clients to reach their maximal potential.

Two of our clinicians are certified in the leading evidence-based intervention for Parkinson’s disease called LSVT-BIG for physical therapy treatment, and LSVT-LOUD for speech therapy.  Exercising will improve muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination/balance, as well as reduce anxiety/depression. We emphasize motor learning, sensory-motor integration, and agility. LSVT-BIG is based on the concept of repetitive high amplitude movement to improve our clients’ performance and safety with functional mobility.

Our personalized plan of care work on our clients’ specific needs, regardless of the stage of their condition. LSVT-LOUD is customized to recalibrate a client’s perception of speech to improve their voice and communication. Speech therapy will also provide strategies to enhance memory and cognitive reasoning.

Activities of daily living (ADL) including: dressing, bathing, eating, or writing may be difficult for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Our occupational therapy services will teach techniques to make ADLs more manageable. Our occupational therapists may suggest adaptations and modifications to advance accessibly, thus increasing client independence.

We hope to put this important topic in the spotlight this month, and bring awareness to a neurological disease that affects so many.

What to expect during Post-acute Rehabilitation?

You might be hospitalized for several reasons, such as having an injury or illness, and a healthcare professional might have advised you to do post-acute rehabilitation before you are discharged from the hospital. This service is an additional therapy to ensure that you are recovering well from your injury or illness.

You want to choose a rehabilitation center which will be providing you with the care that you need. Your full recovery starts there and then.


Here is a list of what you should expect during your rehabilitation stay.

  • You will undergo a series of evaluations

On the initial phase of your treatment, you will need to undergo a series of evaluations with your doctor. The series of test may include physical, functional and cognitive assessments. These evaluations are necessary steps for creating a treatment therapy that will work for you best.

  • You will be working with highly trained health professionals

A group of highly skilled health professionals will guide you throughout the rehabilitation to make sure all of your needs are met. They will help you get your independence and overall well-being back. You will receive care from nurses, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social workers, dieticians, psychiatrists, and speech and language pathologists.

  • You will receive a combination of treatment therapies

Post-acute rehab is less intensive compared to acute rehabilitation. Most treatments depend on the care that your condition requires. They may include home health care, stay in facility, or outpatient therapy. They provide 2-3 hours therapy sessions such as:

  • Physical therapy

This therapy utilizes therapeutic exercises and physical modalities, such as a massage, heat treatment, exercise, electrotherapy, assistive devices, and patient education and therapy. The treatment aims to restore impaired movement and physical function.

  • Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is a method used in helping people recuperate from physical and mental ailments. It enables patients to restore their function and independence.

  • Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy is a treatment, which helps people with communicating, eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.

  • Cognitive behavior therapy

It is a type of psychotherapy for people who are experiencing anxiety, depression and other physical and mental disorders. The process alters negative patterns and emotions by modifying them into positive ones.

Every progress you will have during your treatment program will be recorded to know if it’s time to initiate a discharge plan. The benefit of post-acute rehab is the ability to have support and guidance from healthcare professionals. Each specialist provides therapy that supports your overall treatment plan.

Post-acute rehabilitation is offered by  Neulife Rehab, who provide an environment that is conducive to people recovering from injuries and ailments.  With Neulife, rest assured as you will receive all the care you need to speed up your treatment journey.

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 provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

Is Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Really “Mild”?

What is Mild TBI?

A mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as the result of a forceful motion of the head or impact, causing a brief change in the mental status.

Mild TBI can be classified as mild if loss of consciousness, confusion and/or disorientation are shorter than 30 minutes. While using MRI and CAT scans is often normal, the individual will experience cognitive problems, such as, headache, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings and frustration.

Other names for mild TBI include: concussion, minor head trauma, minor TBI, minor brain injury, and minor head injury.

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Common Symptoms of Mild TBI

Mild TBI is the most prevalent type of TBI, but unfortunately it is often missed at the time of the initial injury. Post injury symptoms are often referred to as post concussive syndrome. 15% of people with mild TBI have symptoms that last one year or more. The symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbances
  • Memory loss
  • Poor attention/concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dizziness/loss of balance
  • Irritability-emotional disturbances
  • Feelings of depression
  • Seizures

Problems with the diagnosis

The biggest problem with mild TBI is that these symptoms may not be recognised, or even present, at the time of the injury. In the beginning everything seems ok, a patient resumes daily activities as if nothing happened. Symptoms can appear as long as a week after the injury has been inflicted. They are often subtle and difficult to spot by the patient and the family – or even doctors

That’s why it is important to pay attention to any, even minor, changes in behaviour, thinking, or performing daily tasks at home or at work. If you observe them – seek medical help.  

The dangers of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Even though this type of TBI is called “mild”, the effects on the family and the injured person can be devastating. When an injured person gets  sent home from the hospital due to lack of symptoms, the person remains unaware of the basis for his or her altered ability to function later on. Sometimes the individual assures him- or herself that they are just fine and don’t require help. They wouldn’t even enter the healthcare system database, let alone use catastrophic rehabilitation programme.

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When Mild TBI Is No Longer “Mild”

Mild TBI symptoms are expected to disappear in the first days or weeks after sustaining an injury. The patients wait (while oftentimes suffering from  cognitive, physical, and emotional effects) in hope of getting better very soon. The problem is that some symptoms might not disappear by themselves. The consequences of a mild injury are often similar to those of moderate and severe injuries, if not treated.

Positive outcomes for patients with minor TBI are based on their knowledge about what can be expected in the days, weeks, and months following injury. As problems with functioning develop, the affected person needs to have access to help in learning how to compensate for deficits and how to obtain a catastrophic rehabilitation programmes – the sooner, the better.

The truth is – no-one can do this alone. Every patient deserves support from the best team of medical professionals to assist them throughout the process of catastrophic rehabilitation.

NeuLife Rehabilitation – brain injury facility, where miracles happen every day.

NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest residential post-acute rehabilitation facilities in the Southeast with specialized catastrophic rehabilitation programs for a wide range of catastrophic injuries.

Our programs are customized to meet the individual needs of each patient, and care plans are structured to promote the highest level of functional independence and successful community reintegration. Through the skills and experience of our highly trained team of clinical experts, we are able to treat a wide range of diagnoses and injuries at our brain injury center.

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If you have any more questions concerning catastrophic rehabilitation, or any other issue regarding traumatic brain injury (TBI), call us to make an appointment  today. You can also schedule a tour to visit our brain injury clinic.


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 provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

What is Post-Acute Rehabilitation?

In relation to health care in today’s world and economy, many facets of care go undefined and are not considered to be truly consistent with standards of quality operation and outcome.

“The current process of care transitions for individuals with disabling conditions is both ineffective and inefficient. There is a need for clinicians with the necessary knowledge and skills to advocate and facilitate transitions that result in the greatest value to the individuals, their families, and the healthcare delivery system. A review of the literature reveals significant problems with transition to post-acute care (PAC) settings. Care is fragmented, disorganized, and guided by factors unrelated to the quality of care or individual outcomes.” (Gage, 2009; Sandel et al., 2009).

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As this statement communicates, the effects of fragmented care and services provided can and does affect the success and outcomes of those individuals needing and/or requiring complete post-acute rehabilitation services.  We see these negative effects in all phases of the care continuum which include acute individual rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities, the post-acute care arena and in the general community.

Transition to post-acute facilities such as NeuLife Rehab – Florida’s post-acute rehab facility, includes preparation and validation of services provided, ideally outside of a pre-determined length of stay and progress parameters.  Post-acute settings should focus on the individual and significant other in relation to a rehabilitation process that includes, but is not limited to, a systemic comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment in the development of realistic, measurable and functional goals.

NeuLife Post-Acute programs is a CARF accredited brain injury specialty and residential rehabilitation program that focuses on the identification of barriers affecting the rehabilitation process and final discharge outcome. Examples of the effectiveness relating to a truly accredited post-acute program such as NeuLife Florida Post-Acute Program is proven by approximately 80% of catastrophic injuries return home or their communities.

One publication supporting the cost relationship between those individuals who received comprehensive post – acute care have proved to have more successful discharge outcomes as well as overall financial cost savings. (COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS FOR POST-ACUTE REHABILITATION OF THE TRAUMATICALLY BRAIN-INJURED INDIVIDUAL, M.J. Ashley, David K. Krych, Centre for Neuro Skills Bakersfield, CA Robert R. Lehr, Jr. Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences and Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 1990).

In summary, true post-acute services focus on the client’s personal needs and barriers, the environment and the ability to adapt to any actual deficit. The responsibility to acknowledge this challenge lies with all who provide care and services. 


This content was provided by NeuLife Neurological Services.