Physical Therapy Rewiring the Brain After a Stroke

Physical Therapy Rewiring the Brain After a Stroke

If you or someone that you know has ever suffered from a stroke, you are aware that the road to recovery can be a long and difficult process. Although the brain injury that is suffered by stroke patients can’t be reversed, there have been studies shows that can help restore function back to the body and brain. With good quality care, many stroke patients can work up to living as independently as possible with a good quality of life.

A common habit of people with disabilities is that they stop using their impaired limbs, which is referred to as “non-use”. This practice is extremely detrimental to the patient’s future mobility because scientists have recently found that our brain is able to compensate for injury and disease. The brain is able to create new connections to different parts of the body in order to recover itself. One of the most important parts of this process is through stimulating activity. The more you are trying to work on mobility, the better chance you have at your brain making new connections. Here at Oahu Spine & Rehab, we are able to help stroke patient’s work through their disabilities in order to get their bodies to recover as much as possible.

When treating patients who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury, here in Kailua we employ a technique developed by neuroscientist Dr. Edward Taub. Called constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT), this technique teaches the brain to rewire itself. With CIMT, our physical therapists restrain the side unaffected by stroke—for example, by putting the unaffected arm in a sling—while the patient performs various tasks using the affected side. Without this treatment, the patient would likely perform tasks using only the unaffected side. By making sure that a stroke patient isn’t giving up full function of their limbs, it will increase their chances of improvement.

This repetitive use of impaired limbs can teach the brain to rewire itself and use the affected side more. Without this process, the use of the limbs will become almost impossible if not helped through therapy.  This has been shown to improve the quality of movement in most patients. The technique is also used for patients with multiple sclerosis and war veterans who have incurred traumatic brain injury.

Our physical therapy team and medical team here at Oahu Spine & Rehab, we can ensure the fullest recovery possible from a stroke. By analyzing factors such as your strength, endurance, range of motion, gait abnormalities and sensory deficits, we will develop an individualized rehabilitation program to help you regain as many motor functions as possible.

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