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 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
  • 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

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.

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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:

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.

Adynamia: Understanding Lack of Motivation After Brain Injury

If your loved one has experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you may have noticed some changes in behavior, including a lack of motivation. This is likely due to damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. 

It is important to understand that they are not intentionally being lazy but that it is a symptom of their injury. There is even a name for the condition: Adynamia

Through learning about Adynamia, you can better understand what your loved one is experiencing. With this knowledge, you can offer great support as they work on recovery. 

 

What Causes Adynamia?

Patients with a TBI may not only have a lack motivation but seem disengaged in activities of daily life. It can make it difficult for them to progress in activities to improve cognitive functioning due to the symptoms they are experiencing. 

Doctors know it is associated with damage to the brain’s frontal lobe. This part of the brain is responsible for cognitive functioning. If there is damage, it can make it challenging to make decisions or multi-task. This can cause much frustration for the patient. 

Because of difficulty with problem-solving and poor judgment, the patient can also be unmotivated. Working with a rehabilitation team can help the patient manage symptoms and build motivation with time.

 

What are the Symptoms of Adynamia?

Adynamia is associated with other symptoms experienced in patients with a brain injury. These may include cognitive, emotional, and other behavioral impairments. 

Symptoms specific to Adynamia include: 

  • Sleeping too much or sleeping in late
  • Lack of motivation to participate in activities
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Social Isolation

Symptoms are similar to depression, but it is related to the injury, not a mood disorder. Doctors who specialize in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation can make the correct diagnosis. 

Intervention is necessary because it can impact participation in recovery efforts. It can start with basic self-care tasks such as showering or getting dressed. Once the basics are addressed, patients can move forward to participation in additional therapy exercises. 

 

What Can Help Patients With Adynamia?

Some interventions help patients with Adynamia progress and boost motivation. The best way is to make tasks simple and to make activities enjoyable.

Routines are essential when recovering from a TBI. The routine should be consistent and help the patient accomplish daily living activities. Break down tasks into simple steps to boost motivation. This can help the patient from becoming too overwhelmed. 

Allow the patient choices but make it simple for them. The patient may be overwhelmed by making decisions. For example, give them two shirts to choose from to wear for the day. Making it simple for them can help the patient build motivation with time. 

Also, set small but realistic goals. This is important in neurorehabilitation for it to be successful. Goals should be: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

It is important goals be personalized to have the best outcome possible. 

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Why You Should Choose Neulife for Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Do you have a loved one who needs post acute rehab after a brain Injury? Neulife is one of the largest neuro-rehabilitation centers in Florida and the southwest United States. Our team helps your loved one through rehabilitation by providing medical management, psychiatric and neuro physical services, and occupational, speech, and cognitive therapies. 

We want to ensure your loved one has the best possible recovery to get back to the family they love. Schedule a tour or contact us at 1-888-626-3876. You can also make a referral here! We are always happy to answer any questions you may have! 

 

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.

Perseveration After Brain Injury: How to Stop Repetitive Thoughts and Behaviors

When your loved one has a brain injury (TBI), you may notice repetitive thoughts and behaviors. It is important to know what perseveration is to understand what your loved one is experiencing. 

Perseveration is quite common after a brain injury. It is often seen in rehabilitation for brain injury

We all experience perseveration to some degree. We can have thoughts that seem to run through our minds repeatedly, causing anxiety and frustration. 

But these thoughts are appropriate. However, it is uncontrollable and challenging to pivot away from intrusive thoughts in brain injury patients. 

Perseveration is when a brain injury patient continuously repeats words, actions, or thoughts. The cause is due to changes in their brain that affect memory, attention, and cognition. 

You can do many things to support a loved one who experiences perseveation after a brain injury. 

 

What You Need to Know About Perseveration

If a patient with a TBI is experiencing perseveration, they may be unable to multitask. For example, they are unable to perform tasks and hold a conversation simultaneously.

It is caused by damage to the brain’s frontal cortex, the part responsible for awareness and inhibition. When damaged, patients have difficulty stopping an action or switching from one task to another. 

Patients are not aware they have perseveration and cannot control the symptoms. This can be incredibly frustrating for both the patient and loved ones. It can have an incredible impact on the patient’s life. 

 

What are the Different Types of Perseveration?

There are different types of perseveration seen in neuro rehabilitation. The three most common types are: 

  • Stuck-in-set: An uncontrolled or extended maintenance of thought or topic even when there has been a change in conversation or change in task
  • Recurrent Perseveration: An unintentional repetition of behavior. They are completing the same task over and over for no apparent reason. 
  • Continuous Perseveration: Uncontrolled repetition of a feeling, such as continuing to experience anger or frustration longer than appropriate

It is important to note that no two people experience perseveration to the same degree and can experience different types at the same time. 

 

How is perseveration Managed in Post Acute Rehabilitation?

In post-acute rehabilitation, a neuropsychologist evaluates and develops a comprehensive treatment plan. Occupational therapists help to work on coping skills to assist with perseveration symptoms. Other successful treatment options include: 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Speech Therapy 
  • Medication

Patients may also learn a skill called thought stopping. Professionals use a visual cue or action that stops perseveration as it isis happening. One example is snapping a rubber band on their wrist when they notice they are perseverating. 

 

How Can You Support Your Loved One?

You can do things to help a loved one who is struggling with perseveration. Help them recognize when they are persevering and remind them to ask for help. Teach them to create a “stuck” signal when they are in the cycle of perseveration. 

It is helpful to give simple and clear instructions, such as helping them with getting dressed. Walk them through putting on socks, pants, their shirt, etc.

Also, consistently offer praise. If they are managing their perseveration, tell them! Reinforce the behavior with positivity. 

Allow some time for perseveration if it is appropriate. If your loved one is obsessing over a certain thought, schedule a time they are allowed to do so, but they have to stop once that time is up. You might want to set an alarm, so they know when it is time to stop. 

If you are struggling with supporting a loved one experiencing perseveration, seek help yourself. It can be very frustrating, and therapy can help you process your feelings. Setting boundaries for yourself and setting aside time for your self-care is essential. 

 

Getting Help for Your Loved One With a Brain Injury

Neulife is one of the largest brain injury rehabilitation centers located in Florida. Neulife rehab centers are experts in treating TBI patients, including catastrophic rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, neuro rehab, post-acute rehab and more.

We use a patient-centered approach to help patients manage symptoms and accomplish their rehabilitation goals. 

We not only focus on the needs of our patients but also their families. We assist our patients by providing clinical evaluations, medical care, and therapeutic activities, including those that address perseveration.

The goal is always to develop a customized plan to transition the client back home with those they love. 

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a tour, please get in touch with us – we are looking forward to seeing you!

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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.

 

5 Common Myths About Traumatic Brain Injuries

Because Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are considered to be ‘silent’ or invisible injuries, there are many myths and misunderstandings about them. These myths surround both brain injuries themselves and treatment methods. It is essential to learn the facts, so you or your loved one receives both support and proper treatment for a TBI. In this article, we aim to clear up 5 myths about TBIs.

Myth #1: If I Didn’t Hit My Head, I Can’t Have a Brain Injury

Many people are surprised that you don’t have to hit your head to have a TBI. If you have a strong enough jolt to the body, it can cause damage if the brain hits the skull. This is common with car accidents. The airbag may stop you from hitting your head but can still result in an injury to the brain due to impact. 

 

Myth #2: All Head Injuries are Treated Equally

TBIs are not considered equal, and there are three severity levels: mild, moderate, or severe. They also can be classified by if they are closed or penetrating (open). Open traumatic brain injuries are rare, occurring when the skull is penetrated.

The severity of the brain injury is determined by factors, including the level of consciousness after the injury. Unconsciousness and an altered state of consciousness can indicate a more severe injury. In more mild cases, the patient may not lose consciousness and can experience confusion, headaches, or dizziness. 

Since the severity of brain injuries differs, it is important to be evaluated by a doctor to determine the right course of treatment for you or your loved one’s specific injury. 

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Myth #3: A Normal CT Scan or MRI Means You Do Not Have a Traumatic Brain Injury

An MRI or a CT scan is used to determine if there is structural damage to the brain. Not all brain injuries that occur have structural damage. 

A traumatic brain injury can alter neurological pathways that a CT scan or an MRI cannot see. Other factors and symptoms can determine the severity of a head injury, including the level of consciousness and neurological testing by a trusted neurologist. 

 

Myth #4: A Concussion is Not The Same as a Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussions are considered brain injuries and can vary in severity. A second concussion can cause serious trauma to the brain, as seen in athletes who experience head trauma. This is known as “post concussive syndrome”. 

Concussions should be treated as other brain injuries. Your doctor will develop the right treatment plan based on the symptoms you are experiencing from a concussion. 

 

Myth #5: Without Treatment, Brain Injury Can be Permanent

Most mild TBIs can be treated by rest and a gradual return to activities. 

Extra precautions may need to be taken if returning to athletics and sports. Coaches should be made aware that an athlete has experienced a concussion so they can make adaptations to support the athlete and reduce the risk of subsequent concussions. 

With proper rest, many concussive symptoms do resolve on their own without intervention within a few weeks. 

Of course, moderate and severe head injuries do require intervention. Some symptoms can be permanent, but most can improve or resolve with the right treatment at a neurorehabilitation center. 

 

When is Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation is Necessary Following a TBI?

Severe head injuries require post-acute rehab to have the best outcome possible. Rehabilitation centers are patient-focused and develop treatment plans based on the severity of the patient’s injury. 

Neulife rehabilitation is one of Florida’s most extensive brain injury facilities. We advocate for both patients and their families to bring awareness about TBIs into the community. 

What can you expect if you are a patient at Neulife? We offer rehabilitation through medical management, mental health services, occupational and physical rehab, and cognitive therapies. 

Through our in-patient rehabilitation programs,  our goal is to obtain the best possible outcome for your loved one. 

Schedule a tour to see our facility to decide if it may be appropriate for your loved one. We are also always here to answer questions. Reach out to us at 1-888-626-3876, or make a referral. 

 

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.

Brain Injury Rehab Florida – National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Brain Injury Rehab Florida – The Brain Injury Association of America estimates that more than 3.6 million Americans (children and adults) have sustained a TBI (traumatic brain injury). Moreover, nearly 795,000 people have suffered an acquired brain injury (ABI) from non-traumatic causes. The data is terrifying, especially taking into account all the effects brain injuries have on the injured and their families.

Some of the physical and cognitive impacts of TBI may be permanent, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything more to help TBI patients. There are actually a LOT of things that we can do to help bring back quality and a sense of normalcy to the patients’ and families’ lives. One great example is by supporting the National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

For more than three decades, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has proudly led the nation in observing National Brain Injury Awareness Month by conducting an engaging public awareness campaign in March of each year. The theme for this year’s campaign is #MoreThanMyBrainInjury.

The #MoreThanMyBrainInjury public awareness campaign provides a platform for educating the general public about the incidence of brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families. Individuals who join us to help raise awareness with the #MoreThanMyBrainInjury campaign are essential to:

  • De-stigmatizing brain injury through outreach within the brain injury community
  • Empowering those who have survived brain injury and their caregivers
  • Promoting the many types of support available to people living with brain injury.

To honor this year’s Brain Injury Month, here are some simple ways how you can participate and help spread awareness.

1. Educate yourself

Change starts within yourself. So, if you want people to change their perspective on TBI, then you should work on developing your perception first. One way to do that is by learning about traumatic brain injuries and their effect on their victims.

In our past article, we discussed everything there is to know about traumatic brain injuries一what it is, its types, causes, and available treatment options. We also covered the impact and consequences of TBI on an individual’s life, such as:

  • Cognitive impairment (long- or short-term memory loss, difficulty learning and memorizing new things, short attention span, speech problems, lack of concentration, problems with reading and writing)
  • Neurological impairment (difficulty with walking, coordination, or balance; loss of taste, hearing, vision, or smell; insomnia; fatigue)
  • Behavioral changes (anger, frustration, impatience, reduced self-esteem, impulsivity, anxiety, PTSD, apathy)
  • Lifestyle consequences.

Understanding TBI on a whole new level can help you protect yourself and your loved ones by recognizing early signs and symptoms. It also allows you to develop empathy for patients and families affected by the condition. 

2. Impart your knowledge about traumatic brain injury

Everyone needs to know about TBI and how common it is. It is not only to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury but also to bring attention to the patients who struggle with the consequences of the trauma every single day. Their struggles range from limited abilities to reduced mobility to diminished cognitive skills. 

Discussing it with your parents, children, and relatives can encourage them to be an advocate and an ally for healing. It also breaks the stigma surrounding traumatic brain injury, thus helping improve the lives of patients diagnosed with it. 

Some topics that you can focus on include emergency responses to concussion, causes of TBI, and how to prevent it

3. Raise awareness on social media

Social media can be a powerful tool in raising awareness. With one click, you can easily share informative publication materials about TBI, distribute downloadable resources or share a friend’s TBI healing journey.

You can also join forums and start a healthy conversation about this condition and why patients need their help. If you have the time and resources, you can even invite a speaker and host a free webinar to impart credible information regarding brain injuries.

4. Donate 

If you have the financial capacity for it, another way to show solidarity is by donating to a local organization or group that supports traumatic brain injury patients. 

Every cent can help fund the recovery and rehabilitation of TBI patients who lack the financial means to afford their medical treatment. Non-profit research groups can also use your donation to support their medical research regarding traumatic brain injuries. 

Of course, these charities and organizations also accept in-kind donations, such as clothes, food, medicines, and other items that can help patients and families.

5. Participate in fundraisers and events

One search on the internet can easily lead you to national events or local fundraisers that support the cause of TBI patients. For example, you can participate in marathons for a cause, purchase goods in their bake sale, or buy for sale items in garage sales.

6. Volunteer

If you want to take your commitment to the next level, then you can show support by volunteering in TBI-related events and activities. Sign up to be a part of an organizing committee or start your own event with the help of friends and family.

You can also volunteer your professional services to your trusted, non-profit organizations for TBI patients. For example, if you are a health worker (e.g., doctor, therapist), then you can volunteer on medical missions or rehabilitation programs to serve those who cannot afford medical treatments. 

If your expertise lies in the creative department, you can volunteer your artistic services to an organization by providing free digital graphics or writing an informational blog about TBI. These efforts can help non-profit groups efficiently raise awareness, which benefits individuals and families affected by brain injuries.

7. Open up about your own experiences

For traumatic brain injury patients, nothing is more encouraging than an inspiring story about recovery. So if you or a loved one has any experience in dealing with TBI, then you can tell your story. Sharing one’s own experiences, struggles, and coping techniques can help a lot of patients and families. Some examples of the things you can share include:

  • You can share a bit of helpful advice on how you worked on improving or managing specific symptoms of TBI. 
  • If you’re a family member, you can strengthen others by sharing your experiences dealing with the behavioral changes that come with TBI. You can educate others on what to expect and do during specific behavioral episodes.
  • You can create a video or written story on your battle against TBI. You can share with others by posting it on social media, uploading it on Youtube, or giving talks on TBI-related events.

For someone diagnosed with a TBI, knowing that they’re not alone in this makes such a huge difference in their outlook in life. Moreover, it can bring a lot of hope and positive influence on their commitment towards recovery and healing.

So, we encourage you to go to the Brain Injury Association of America’s Campaign Page ‘#MoreThanMyBrainInjury’ and get involved!

How we show our support

In our facility, we do our best to make the healing process go as smoothly as possible by making our patients’ needs a priority. 

The brain injury rehabilitation program at NeuLife offers a full continuum of services for patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), non-traumatic/mild brain injury (MBI), or acquired brain injury (ABI) including stroke. The comprehensive program at our brain injury facility encompasses the unique needs of each patient and family. The team focuses on maximizing abilities, providing education, increasing mobility, and preventing complications.

So if you’re looking for a neuro rehab near me, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert therapists and medical professionals. 

Rehabilitation for Brain Injury – About NeuLife Rehab

NeuLife Rehabilitation is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care. As a CARF Accredited Residential Rehabilitation Program and Brain Injury Specialty Program, NeuLife is continuously evaluated and measured for success. 

We strive to consistently provide the highest standard of care in delivering quality clinical rehabilitative services to patients with catastrophic injuries and other challenging diagnoses to produce superior outcomes and exceed the expectations of all persons served. 

Our brain injury rehabilitation program includes clinical evaluations, medical care, and therapeutic activities that are customized to meet the goals, needs, and abilities of each patient. 

By leveraging various rehabilitation services, we can create an integrated approach focused on helping each patient recover skills associated with activities of daily living (ADLs) using compensatory strategies and mobility aids to achieve a seamless transition into the community. Every component of the treatment plan is customized to the individual patient for guaranteed results. 

We also offer post acute rehabilitation and catastrophic rehabilitation for other types of injuries. If you would like more information about NeuLife Rehabilitation Services, please contact us at 800-626-3876.

 

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.