Recent research indicates that targeted hand function training enhances neuroplastic changes in the brain. (Neuroplasticity: neuro – refers to brain, plasticity – ability to undergo and retain a change).
The ScIENCE OF NEUROPLASTICITY
The ability of the brain and spinal cord to change.
In a recent Science Friday show (aired by NPR in the USA on the 3rd of August 2018) they highlighted two captivating real-life stories. First, a boy who lost 1/6th of his brain, and has learned to live with it beyond and against everyone’s expectations. Second, a healthy human with two functioning arms, to whom a bionic arm (third arm) was attached at their neck, and connected to their brain using neural links (nerves) normally not used for hand-related activities. A total of 14 individuals participated in this study, and all of them were able to perform a two handed task (with their two healthy hands), while the bionic arm was able to hold a bottle
Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain and spinal cord to change. At one time just a theoretical concept, it is now proven that it has a huge impact in individuals with brain trauma or stroke. Scientists have shown the impact of this phenomenon in both animals and humans. There are a number of fascinating real-life stories that illustrate the concept of neuroplasticity.
Watch the story of a young girl who lives an independent life even though half of her brain has been removed.
Hand function study using IRegained hand function device
Muscle function and functional abilities improved as a result of the hand training program
Pepe, A., Vasiliu, D., Vollebregt, B., Jain, A., Reinikka, K., Lawrence-Dewar, J., Johnson, VBK. Evaluation of a novel hand training device and program on muscle pattern activity following stroke, World Stroke Congress, Montreal, 2018.
Patients felt their overall abilities improved as a result of participating in the study
Vollebregt, B., Reinikka, K., Vasiliu, D., Pepe, AM., Jain, A., Lawrence-Dewar, JM., Johnson, VBK. The Impact of a Hand Training Programme in Chronic Stroke Survivors: A Qualitative Analysis of a Community Based Program, Northern Constellations Conference, Thunder Bay, 2018.
Patients who participated in the study improved in their ability to perform functional tasks such as cutting a steak or using a telephone
Vollebregt, B., Vasiliu, D., Pepe, AM., Vaclav, M., Jain, A., Lawrence-Dewar, JM., Reinikka, K., Johnson, VBK. Functional Changes Secondary to A 6-Week Hand Training Program Using a Novel Concept Rehabilitation Device, American Society of Neuro Rehabilitation, Annual Meeting, Baltimore, 2017
Muscle function improved in stroke patients as a result of hand function training
Pepe, A., Vasiliu, D., Vollebregt, B., Jain, A., Reinikka, K., Lawrence-Dewar, J., Johnson, VBK. Changes in Muscle Activity Secondary to a Six-Week Hand Training Program Using a Novel Concept Rehabilitation Device, Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 2017.
Patients who participated in the study, reported improvement in hand function
Coccimiglio, G., Vasiliu, D., Pepe, AM., Jain, A., Lawrence-Dewar, JM., Reinikka, K., Johnson, VBK. Subjective Changes Secondary to A Six-Week Hand Training Program Using a Novel Concept Rehabilitation Device, Northern Health Research Conference, Thunder Bay, 2017.
Stroke incidents per year