Understanding Brain Plasticity: How Rehabilitation Can Help After Injury

Brain plasticity is the brain's ability to reconfigure and restructure itself to respond to change. Also known as neuroplasticity, it shows how the brain can adapt its function and structure after injury.

The process involves the formation of new brain cells or connections between neurons. This ability affects post-injury recovery. The severity of the injury determines brain response.


Traumatic Brain Injuries


Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are often challenging to treat as they affect brain function. The injuries can result in the following:


  • Cell death

  • Scar formation

  • Inflammation

  • Tissue damage


The severity of brain injuries ranges from mild to severe. Some people experience a brief change in consciousness, while others experience long-term unconsciousness or amnesia.

About 85% of TBI cases are mild and easily treatable, with patients recovering from the injuries.


Understanding Brain Plasticity


Various changes affect the brain, including aging, experience, and learning. Unexpected changes such as head injuries or a stroke can also influence the brain. The brain can reorganize itself after an injury by developing new neurons. It affects the recovery process and can determine how well the patient responds to rehabilitation. Rehabilitation and other interventions can boost brain plasticity during healing.


Types of Brain Plasticity


There are two forms of brain plasticity: functional and structural. Functional plasticity is the brain's ability to self-heal after an injury. The healthy parts of the brain take over various functions previously done by the damaged parts.

Structural plasticity describes the physical changes in the brain as a response to learning. Functional plasticity is vital for patients undergoing recovery from head injuries.


Brain Plasticity After Injury

A traumatic brain injury is usually due to an external force and results in changes in brain health or function. A TBI can lead to death or long-term health complications. TBIs are different from brain injuries, like a stroke that damages brain tissue and affects speech, muscle control, and cognition.


Studies show that brain stimulation therapy can help boost brain plasticity. Transferring nerves from the healthy to the injured brain parts can contribute to increased plasticity as well. Cognitive rehabilitation after a TBI can help with memory recovery and other functions.


The Central Nervous System (CNS)


The CNS can recover and adapt after an injury through compensatory mechanisms. The recovery comes from brain plasticity or the ability of neurons to adapt to changes. The changes occur on a structural and functional level. In the past, people assumed that the adult brain was stagnant.

But studies have shown that neuronal plasticity can occur after an injury. Different parts of the brain are responsible for various functions. The severity and location of the injury will determine the functions affected.

Rehabilitation can help increase neuroplasticity. Brain plasticity will depend on factors such as:


  • The patient's age

  • Severity

  • Location of the injury


The time it takes to heal varies in individuals and can range from three months to one year. It mainly depends on the severity and the physical and mental health. Cognitive rehabilitation and other interventions help boost recovery.


For more on understanding brain plasticity, contact Calibration Chiropractic + Functional Health at our office in Mansfield, Texas. Call (817) 779-3435 to book an appointment today.

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