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Europa Medicophysica 2006 September;42(3):269-84


language: English

Neuroplasticity and Constraint-Induced Movement therapy

Mark V. W. 1, Taub E. 2, Morris D. M. 3

1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, USA 2 Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, USA 3 Department of Physical Therapy University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, USA


Recent years have seen a proliferation of animal and human studies that have associated significant changes in regional brain physiology with sustained altered environmental or somatic stimuli. The behavioral consequences in such instances can be adaptive or maladaptive. As would be expected, constraint-induced movement therapy (CI therapy), which has been found to be beneficial for chronic stroke hemiparesis, has been repeatedly associated with significant plastic brain changes in a variety of studies that have included transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), or other approaches. In some instances, the initial degree of brain reorganization occurred in parallel with the improvement in spontaneous, real-world use by the more-affected hand, which suggests that plastic brain changes in some manner support therapeutic effects. However, the studies are also inconsistent with respect to whether the reorganization changes occur more in the lesioned vs unlesioned hemisphere. Interpreting the physiological outcomes post-treatment is compromised by inconsistencies in study design in the nature of treatment administered, participant recruitment, imaging modality, and extent of follow-up. Improved understanding of the biological basis for neuroplasticity in CI therapy may be obtained through rigorous control of study approaches and through evaluating treatment changes with more than one modality in the same patients concurrently. New quantitative structural brain imaging techniques may allow measuring morphological changes following CI therapy to test hypotheses of regional brain recruitment in use-dependent therapy while avoiding the variability of functional imaging and mapping techniques and the difficulties and assumptions imposed by requiring active limb movement during scanning.

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