[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite ongoing improvements in the acute treatment of cerebrovascular diseases and organization of stroke services, many stroke survivors are in need of neurorehabilitation, as more than two-thirds show persisting neurologic deficits. While early elements of neurorehabilitation are already taking place on the stroke unit, after the acute treatment, the patient with relevant neurologic deficits usually takes part in an organized inpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation program and eventually continues with therapies in an ambulatory setting afterwards. A specialized multidisciplinary neurorehabilitation team with structured organization and processes provides a multimodal, intense treatment program for stroke patients which is adapted in detail to the individual goals of rehabilitation. There are many parallels between postlesional neuroplasticity (relearning) and learning in the development of individuals as well as task learning of healthy persons. One key principle of neurorehabilitation is the repetitive creation of specific learning situations to promote mechanisms of neural plasticity in stroke recovery. There is evidence of achieving a better outcome of neurorehabilitation with early initiation of treatment, high intensity, with specific goals and active therapies, and the coordinated work and multimodality of a specialized team. In this context, interdisciplinary goal-setting and regular assessments of the patient are important. Furthermore, several further potential enhancers of neural plasticity, e.g., peripheral and brain stimulation techniques, pharmacological augmentation, and use of robotics, are under evaluation.
Journal of Neurology 10/2011; 259(5):817-32. · 3.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Graceful aging has been associated with frontal hyperactivations in working- and episodic long-term memory tasks, a compensatory process, according to some, that allows the best normal elders to perform these tasks at a juvenile level, in spite of natural cortical impoverishment. In this study, 24 young and 24 healthy elderly participants were compared. Graceful aging was explored by investigating domains where most healthy elders perform like youngers (e.g. lexical-semantic knowledge) and tasks that are typically more challenging, like episodic long-term recognition memory tasks. With voxel-based morphometry, we also studied to what extent changes of fMRI activation were consistent with the pattern of brain atrophy. We found that hyperactivations and hypoactivations of the elders were not restricted to the frontal lobes, rather they presented with task-dependent patterns. Only hypoactivations and normal levels of activation systematically overlapped with regional atrophy. We conclude that compensatory processes associated with graceful aging may not necessarily be a sign of early saturation of executive resources, if this was to be represented by a systematic frontal hyperactivation, but rather they may represent the ability of recruiting new cognitive strategies. We discuss two possible approaches to further test this hypothesis.
Experimental Brain Research 09/2010; 205(3):307-24. · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most patients show improvement in the weeks or months after a stroke. Recovery is incomplete, however, leaving most with significant impairment and disability. Because the brain does not grow back to an appreciable extent, this recovery occurs on the basis of change in function of surviving tissues. Brain mapping studies have characterized a number of processes and principles relevant to recovery from stroke in humans. The findings have potential application to improving therapeutics that aim to restore function after stroke.
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