The brain is a like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you will lose it. Train your brain like a muscle with continuous learning, and it will get stronger and grow new neural connections (neuroplasticity).
The brain has the capacity to change with learning and recover from brain injury. “Plasticity” refers to the brain’s ability to change and make remarkable recovery after brain injury and rehabilitation.
It was once believed that humans were born with a finite amount of neurons that when destroyed by unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (drugs, alcohol, stress, etc.), injury, disease and aging, these cells were permanently eliminated. However, it is now well known that the brain has tremendous potential to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt in response to new information and life demands.
According to Dr. Bradford Thompson, Director of the Division of Neurocritical Care at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, damaged areas of the brain can reconnect pathways between healthy neurons and form new circuits. Breakthrough examples of brain recovery have been documented in stroke survivors.
Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroanatomist, experienced a massive stroke in 1996 at the age of 37, and her subsequent eight-year path to recovery is eloquently detailed in her 2008 TedTalk. Jill experienced full recovery and shares her insightful story here: Jill Bolte Taylor TedTalk
With any brain injury, immediate medical care is essential. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke can reduce brain damage and improve recovery. Acting F.A.S.T. and obtaining medical care within 3 hours can save lives and brain function. Follow the simple test below and visit this CDC link for more information: CDC Stroke Signs and Symptoms
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Landau, Elizabeth. “The Brain’s Amazing Potential for Recovery.” CNN. Cable News Network, 05 May 2011. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
- “My Stroke of Insight.” Jill Bolte Taylor:. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
- “Stroke Signs and Symptoms.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.