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What Is Neurorehabilitation?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Neurorehabilitation is a type of therapy given to people who have suffered from brain injuries. This treatment is based on the idea that healthy sections of the brain can be trained to take over for areas that have been damaged or destroyed. Though the damaged portions of the brain cannot be repaired, in many cases, patients are able to retrain themselves to function the way they did before the injury. Patients who undergo neurorehabilitation may also learn adaptive strategies to compensate for abilities that cannot be completely restored.

Patients who have suffered from a variety of different conditions can benefit from neurorehabilitation. Stroke is one of the most common reasons that patients receive this type of therapy, though it is also used in patients with Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, or serious head or spinal injury. A team of doctors, counselors, and physical, speech, and occupational therapists work with patients one on one to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Neurorehabilitation is tailored to the needs of the individual patient, and the goals of therapy are based on what the patient wants to achieve and what the medical team believes can be accomplished.

There are several components of neurorehabilitation. The first is developing muscle tone and strength, in both the affected portions of the body and the parts that still function normally. Increasing tone and overall fitness is important because it can help patients compensate better for any physical deficiencies.

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The practice of skills is also essential to the process of neurorehabilitation. Improvements cannot be made overnight and patients must continue to work hard in order to restore function after sustaining brain damage. Once goals have been achieved, patients are encouraged to continue to push themselves to perform tasks that are more difficult because there is no upper limit to the rehabilitation. A patient with limited mobility in the left arm may, for example, learn to move that arm independently, then learn to have that arm assist the right arm in carrying an object, then learn to carry an object independently with the affected arm.

Though a patient may receive neurorehabilitation in a medical facility for a specific length of time, the process of recovering from brain damage is usually lifelong. Patients who are unable to live independently may learn skills that can make them more independent. Those who are able to care for themselves may continue to improve their quality of life.

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