Injury: Retraining the Brain

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about recovering from injuries. An injury to the brain can affect the way the body works, and recovery requires retraining the brain.

When the brain is damaged by traumatic injury or stroke, it has to compensate for the damaged neural networks, but that takes a lot of training. Physical therapists use repetitive motions to help the brain form new pathways. Dr. Patricia Smith, a physical therapist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says a robotic device can help with this task by taking gravity out of the equation so that patients can just focus on the motion. A therapist can help patients with the movements that retrain the brain, but with the machine, patients can repeat the movements even more. Patients with limited arm function can still do a wider variety of movements that work through the arm’s range of motion so that patients can eventually regain mobility.


September 2011

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