Brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, suggests that the location of a given function in the brain (for example, speech) can move to another area of the brain. This transfer can be activated by repetitive learning.
In the case of stroke, brain plasticity refers to healthy brain cells taking over the functions of damaged brain cells.
This means that certain lost functions, such as speech and language, may reemerge as the result of intensive rehabilitation.
Brian Plasticity and Stroke
Stroke can cause damage to parts of the brain responsible for thinking, learning, awareness, judgement, and problem solving.
Stroke survivors with thinking deficits may demonstrate:
- Reduced concentration ability or lack of concentration
- Processing new information slower
- Trouble learning new tasks
- Problems comprehending meaning
- An inability to make plans
- Very short attention spans
- Deficits in short-term memory
- Difficulty engaging in complex mental activities
All of these ailments are treated through speech and language therapy. Improvements in communication skills are commonly achieved through brain plasticity and intensive therapy (practicing on a daily basis).
How does Brain Plasticity Work?
After a stroke, how does the brain reorganize itself?
The answer to this question is not fully understood, although researchers have now found that adult brain cells can reorganize themslves following damage.
The ability of nerve cells to respond in this way is called plasticity.
Plasticity refers to the brain's ability to repair and reorganize cells. This means having healthy cells of the brain taking over jobs that were previously carried out by brain cells which were destroyed.
This is done by sprouting of new synaptic connections and creating new pathways to unaffected parts of the brain.
The brain's plasticity appears to be greatest when we are young. You can probably recall how much easier it was to learn complex material, such as a foreign language or a musical instrument, when you were younger.
Of course our ability to learn new skills continues as we become adults. This indicates that the brain retains a certain level of plasticity throughout our lives.
However, the capability and speed of learning is likely to lessen as we age. In spite of this tendency, the brain can still assign learning to new, healthy areas of itself.
In other words, when neurons, the primary cells of the nervous system, are damaged by a stroke or brain injury, other neurons take over for them. This adaptive behavior allows us to reorganize the brain in an effort to recover lost skills.
Brain plasticity is why intensive therapy is such a critical element of stroke recovery.
During the time of natural recovery it's extremely beneficial to challenge your physical, and mental abilities. By doing so you are initiating changes within the brain that can lead to new areas taking over for damaged ones.
This is the reason why speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy are so important to a stroke patient. These activities can accelerate and enhance the stroke recovery process.
Discover how your highest potential can be realized!
Forge New Pathways to Healthy Areas
of the Brain
In order for new pathways to be formed, neurons must be stimulated. You can activate this growth by exercising your brain.
You exercised your brain throughout life as you learned new skills. Stroke recovery is no different. In order to relearn your speech and language skills you'll have to practice.
"Now an enormous amount of evidence uncovered in the past two decades finds that the brain never stops changing and adjusting.
One line of research is showing that this flexibility can help maintain language processing even in the face of severe obstacles.
Take advantage of your brain's flexibility by practicing your speech and language skills on a daily basis.
This is achieved by daily practice of:
The length and frequency of quality treatment absolutely makes a difference.
How can you receive intensive therapy?
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