Monday, May 21, 2012

Stroke Recovery. Its About Time.

Stroke survivors are given such a short time to recover. For everyone "motor learning" takes repeated attempts in order to rewire the brain. How much more effort must motor learning take in folks who have billions of neurons killed by their stroke? The numbers get very large. I've heard "2000 for a single joint" and " 140,00" "and "10,000" and "Tens of thousands" and" millions." But guess what? Every stroke is different. So the numbers for you and how you are trying to move are different than her and what she is trying to move. I think I've come up with the perfect number for everyone. This is based on my dozens of peer-reviewed coauthored studies, and clinical research at both the Kessler Institute and the U of Cincinnati. But the number is algorithmic and gets very complicated. Ready? Here's the number...

"A lot."

It is commonly and scientifically accepted that that it takes at least 10 years to become an expert in any field. We ask stroke survivors to relearn difficult tasks such as walking within a few months to a few years of their stroke. And all this difficult motor learning is done against a backdrop in which portions of the brain that is usually used for walking is deceased. And then there's all the other variables like other health issues, depression, lack of energy, natural aging and on and on.

Anyone who has children and has gone through boxes and boxes of Band-Aids and knows that motor learning is a challenge. Skinned knees and elbows attest to this. It takes years for children to learn how to walk. How much time do we give stroke survivors whose primary neuronal circuitry for walking has been taken off-line —6 months? Stroke survivors are best served through a combination of personal empowerment and guidance from therapists. No matter how ugly, no matter how synergistic, no matter how submerged in spasticity, each volitional movement should be encouraged. People with acquired brain injury will only drive their own neuroplastic rewiring through repeated volitional attempts, that “nip at the edges” of their ability. Therapists have traditionally focused more on quality of movement and functional relevance than on a confluence of gained active range of motion. No matter how incremental, increased active range of motion in all pivots and planes provides a template for any and all future movements.


Mike said...

"A lot." frighthens many survivors.Only quite a few are willing to take the plunge to the path to recovery.Because it 's a dark and challenging path.

Peter G Levine said...

Right on, it does frighten. And its no fun. But it is what it is.

oc1dean said...

So Pete, it will only take me 4 more years to become an expert in stroke recovery? sarcasm

Peter G Levine said...

Hi sarcasm Dean: you know plenty. Good luck in the new job!

Andrew scott said...

Excellent advice! This should be published in every kind of magazine/newspaper publication out there!
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