In recent years, research has transformed our understanding of what happens when the central nervous system is damaged. Previously, it was assumed that once damage was done, the brain and spinal cord could not recover. This meant that expectations for recovery were limited, opportunities for rehabilitation were restricted and that people had to learn to cope with their disabilities.
With advances in technologies such as MRI scanning, it is now clear that the central nervous system does repair after injury or during disease and that the right kind of rehabilitation can help shape and guide repair of existing neural circuitry or ‘wiring’.
Never say never
We also know that the right type of rehabilitation at the right intensity can enable new neural circuitry to be established and existing ‘wiring’ to be modified to allow new learning and relearning to occur. Brain and spinal cord ‘rewiring’ can occur even when the initial injury occurred decades before or when there is an active neurological disease.
Creating neuroplastic change
This process of repair and rewiring is called neuroplasticity. In order to ensure all of our therapy is targeted and effective, the team at Neural Pathways have developed the ‘four corner stones of neurorehabilitation model’:
Make it meaningful – resolving real life problems in real life environments makes a significant difference to the likely success and sustainability of change
Use it and improve it – where we identity movement and existing ability, no matter how small, improvements can be built
Use it or lose it – new or inconsistent skills are easily lost, so to ‘hard wire’ change, therapy works towards skills that will be used on a day to day basis
Practice makes perfect – learning and relearning needs intensive practice, this means practising outside of therapy to ‘hard wire’ change in the shortest time