Health Watch -- Research Update: Retraining the Brain

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about recent advances in medical research. Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that the right kind of physical therapy for some patients with spinal cord injuries can increase activity in the part of the brain that controls muscle movement.

Patients train on a computerized treadmill that supports the body’s weight and moves the legs with robotic devices. Patients can watch their progress on a computer monitor. Researchers found that these patients had increased blood flow to the part of the brain that controls muscle movement after this training. Some patients involved in the study have even been able to walk again.

Dr. Patricia Winchester, chairwoman of physical therapy at UT Southwestern, says this means therapy could be designed to be more effective by stimulating the right part of the brain.


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Janaury 2006

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