Concussion Recovery With A Plastic Brain

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Rehabilitation from Concussion

“Injuries and diseases of the brain and spinal cord damage clusters of neurons and disconnect their feedforward and feedback projections. The victims of neurologic disorders often improve, however.  Mechanisms of activity-dependent learning within spared modules of like-acting neurons are a fundamental property of the neurobiology of functional gains. Rehabilitation strategies can aim to manipulate the molecules, cells, and synapses of networks that learn to represent some of what has been lost.” Bruce Dobkin, “The Clinical Science of Neurologic Rehabilitation”


Said differently,  when a brain or spinal cord is injured some of the physical connections can be lost. In less severe injuries the function of the “clusters of neurons” can be impaired (e.g. concussion), essentially cutting off or diminishing communication without disconnecting the actual projections.  When these injuries occur, what is the mechanism by which a victim of traumatic brain injury, traumatic spinal cord injuries or concussions improve?

Learning for brain, or neurons in the whole network for that matter, is dependent on “activity” or being engaged. The neurons have to be brought into the game. They learn through “participation”.

Allow me to explain in terms of athletes playing a game. When the first string player is injured, the second string player that was on the bench can take over the function of the first string player. Realize of course that the one player represents a cluster, pool or “assembly of neurons”. The more plays or “reps” that the second string player gets, the more they are “in the game”, the better they will play. That is, the second string player will have greater “functional gains” the more appropriate practice they get.

Rehabilitation strategies at Brain Centers NW aim to get other players in the game, give them reps and with practice, improve their function and relationship to all the players in the neuronal network or “team”.

Functional neurology applications are a main stream means of rehabilitation from traumatic brain injuries like concussions and are explained by Dr. Bruce Dobkin in “The Clinical Science of Neurologic Rehabilitation”. This blog series “Concussion Recovery” will attempt to simplify the concepts he presents with the goal of educating the general public on their options for treatment from traumatic brain injuries like concussions.


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