Using neuroplasticity principles to delay or reverse effects of chronic disease, disability and ageing: A new look at disease biology
Date of Issue2014
International Conference on Translational Nanomedicine (T-NANO) (2014:India)
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Unconscious adaptations in posture and muscle use take place in the course of ageing, progression of chronic conditions or a sudden incident like stroke resulting in physical disability. In many cases, the person is unable or prefers not to use the affected limbs as before even after prolonged therapy either due to weakness, fatigue, pain or loss of control. This results in neuroplastic changes in the brain which may get retrained with compensatory and maladaptive muscle strategies over time, for simple everyday tasks. Such maladaptation leads to still further deterioration and permanent, progressively worsening disability leading to loss of dependence as a person ages. Research data from studies conducted on humans with an automated physio-neuro rehabilitation device, SynPhNe, show that the brain can be retrained to elicit favourable changes in long term maladaptive strategies at both brain and muscle levels. This can be achieved by training the brain and muscle as ONE system, by self-correcting unconscious brain-muscle responses in real time while performing simple tasks and actions. Most of this self-correction revolves around achieving a better activation-relaxation balance in the agonist and antagonist muscle groups during movement, as well as in the two brain hemispheres. The self-correction is effected using posture correction with augmented, time locked brain-muscle biofeedback. Trials in long term stroke patients in Singapore and India resulted in up to 70% recovery of hand use within four weeks as compared to starting baseline. Muscle tone and spasticity improved and uncontrolled tremors reduced allowing subjects to use their affected hands for activities like dressing, using chopsticks, object manipulation and playing the guitar. Secondary pain also reduced or disappeared. Such a self-correction rehabilitation protocol having a significant guided relaxation component may help children and adults with chronic disability to modify symptoms sufficiently to lead an independent and higher quality of life while improving alertness levels, muscle quality and oxygenation. Future trials with cerebral palsy children and traumatic brain injury adults are being planned.
© 2014 Ahmedabad University.