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Stroke Rehabilitation: Throw Out Those Cones

Henry Hoffman
Monday, March 14th, 2016


MedBridge provides clinicians and healthcare organizations a comprehensive education platform that includes clinical education, patient education, and home exercise programs to advance their knowledge, engage patients in their recovery, and improve outcomes.

Do you feel like you’re in a rut? Always doing the same thing? Feeling uninspired? News flash: If you’re bored, your patients are too. It’s time for a change! Some of the most exciting research today is in neuroplasticity and the impact we have as therapists.

We’ve all heard about neuroplasticity and the potential for change in stroke survivors and traumatic brain-injured (TBI) patients, but why is it so important? Only when we better understand the impact of neural changes, how the brain responds to stimuli, and how learning takes place can our treatment truly be most effective.

 

All learning related to neuroplasticity is not created equal

It’s important to know that all learning related to neuroplasticity is not created equal. Most therapists have learned that repetition is the force behind improvement in motor skills and neuroplasticity. But the use of repetition in neurorehabilitation, sometimes referred to as activity-dependent plasticity, doesn’t produce the same functional reorganization of cortical maps as other therapies, often referred to as learning-dependent plasticity.

The best learning experiences appear to be limited to experiences that involve the development of new skills. Treatments that are goal-driven and task oriented (not solely repetitive in nature) are more likely to induce long-term plasticity in motor and sensory maps. If learning-dependent plasticity creates the strongest neuroplastic changes, then we should strive to engage our patients in a learning-based approach to rehabilitation.

Click here to read more by Jan Davis on Stroke Rehabilitation, including 3 key driving forces to brain change and how to create the best learning experience. Plus access a short video from her course, Functional Treatment Ideas & Strategies in Adult Hemiplegia, to see a demonstration of an enriched environment.

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