Archive for July, 2013

Neuroplasticity

Posted on July 25, 2013. Filed under: Neuroplasticity |

According to leading neurology expert, Dr. Darcy Umphred, Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and form new neural connections.1 When one has an injury to the brain from trauma or disease, the brain has two options:
1) Utilize the surrounding healthy cells (neurons) to compensate for the loss by reassigning their function.
2) Sever the connection to the injured region and lose function.

How does the brain decide which option to chose? The decision is majorly based upon amount of use. Put simply, use it or lose it. A person with damage to the brain must regularly practice that function or risk losing that ability. For example, a varsity athlete in high school won’t retain that high level of skill or athleticism four years later if he/she doesn’t continue to practice. The same principle applies to brain injury. If one loses the ability to function in a specific area, they must practice this function in order to promote the growth of new neural pathways.

The brain creates these pathways based upon the input that it receives. For example, an individual who has lost their ability to see utilizes their other four senses more regularly. This occurrence results in the reassignment of the brain’s vision areas to augment the other frequently used senses.

Neuroplasticity is vital in the rehabilitation process and is the likely mechanism behind the functional improvements seen with BBTW. In improving balance and alignment, this device allows individuals to practice their deficient areas of function more easily and drive positive neuroplastic changes. This results in enduring functional improvements and increased participation in daily activities.

Sources
1. Umphred DA. Neurological Rehabilitation. 5th edition. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2007: 62.

By Jaclyn Fridolfsson soon to be DPT

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