Today, Neuroplasticity plays a significant role across a wide spectrum of brain diseases. Most of the research on neuroplasticity has been focusing on stroke and other central nervous system diseases and injuries. Since the adult brain is not entirely “hardwired”, the cortical and subcortical rewiring of the neuronal circuits can take place in the brain in response to either learning or training. Because Neuroplasticity can lead to spontaneous recovery, rehabilitative training can be modified to boost the processes. Neuroplasticity plays important role in treatment of following diseases:
After a stroke, certain parts of the brain can be damaged. Neuroplasticity allows the stroke survivor’s brain to rewire functions that were once stored in these areas. To initiate Neuroplasticity in the injured brain, more repetition and task specific intervention is needed to forge and strengthen new neural pathways. The most commonly used, neuroplasticity-based therapy is the Constraint Induced Therapy (CIT), which focuses on limiting the movement of non-affected areas and using the affected areas more commonly and strongly. Bimanual exercises, Lower-limb treadmill exercise (body-weight support), physical therapy, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy and robot assisted therapy are among most prescribed neuroplasticity based interventions.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Using Neuroplasticity, an individual can improve his attention span, speed up the brain’s processing power and hence improve poor balance and other motor symptoms of PD. Certain studies show that combining goal-based exercises with aerobic training restore Neuroplasticity by repairing basal ganglia and its cortical connections. These exercises, with the right number of repetition and intensity, lead to improvement in motor performance of the patient through experience-dependent Neuroplasticity. Commonly prescribed brain plasticity-based exercises for PD patients include Tai Chi, treadmill exercise, fast cycling, Argentine Tango and boxing basics.
Spinal Cord Injury
Since brain plasticity is often experienced dependent after injury, exercise interventions that aim to promote brain plasticity can have maximum impact if coupled with optimal training and experience. These interventions among people with incomplete spinal cord injury, through robotic-assisted and body weight-supported techniques (that also aim to optimize activity-dependent plasticity), improve walking.
Many studies reveal evidence for disrupted neuroplasticity in Schizophrenia patients. A plasticity-promoting intervention with behavioral reinforcement might initiate repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to improve symptoms of depression and Schizophrenia.
Aerobic exercise as part of activity-based therapies promote Neuroplasticity and reverse cognitive and neural deterioration. Exercise for promoting brain plasticity improve the Central Nervous System (CNS) function in early Dementia (brain diseases that cause a gradual decrease in an individual’s ability to think and remember) patients.
Cognitive and Skill Training
The primary goal of cognitive training is to improve behavior by harnessing neuroplasticity systematically and enforcing adaptive changes in dysfunctional neural systems with cautiously designed exercises. Using cognitive training, the brain gets enabled to increase neural activity and develops neural scaffolding, which regulates cognitive function.