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04/02/2003 - News

Brain reorganises itself after injury

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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Imaging studies reveal that the brain reorganises itself to recover function after various kinds of injury.

Doctors at the University of Illinois have used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess brain activity in people who have recovered some movement ability after brain injury. The damage was due to cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or stroke, and these people had all recovered at least some of the action in their hand.

Healthy individuals show most brain activity in the motor cortex of the brain when they move the hands. In patients who'd suffered neurological damage, other neighboring areas of the brain took over, as shown by the imaging. In some patients, the cerebellum at the back of the brain also assumed control of hand motion.

Prior to the study, it was assumed that the patients with cerebral palsy would show the most brain reorganization, as the damage occurs at a very young age in this condition. There are many more years, therefore, for the brain to reorganize itself compared to cases of multiple sclerosis and stroke, where damage is of more recent origin. But extensive reorganization of brain activity was found in all cases in this study. It's encouraging to learn that the brain has such a remarkable ability to adapt after injury - and this study has some important implications for rehabilitation.

Source

American Academy of Neurology Meeting 1st April 2003

Created on: 04/02/2003
Reviewed on: 04/02/2003

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