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Stroke. 2000 Jan;31(1):223-30.

Brain plasticity and stroke rehabilitation. The Willis lecture.

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Division for Experimental Neurology, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.


Neuronal connections and cortical maps are continuously remodeled by our experience. Knowledge of the potential capabilityof the brain to compensate for lesions is a prerequisite for optimal stroke rehabilitation strategies. Experimental focal cortical lesions induce changes in adjacent cortex and in the contralateral hemisphere. Neuroimaging studies in stroke patients indicate altered poststroke activation patterns, which suggest some functional reorganization. To what extent functional imaging data correspond to outcome data needs to be evaluated. Reorganization may be the principle process responsible for recovery of function after stroke, but what are the limits, and to what extent can postischemic intervention facilitate such changes? Postoperative housing of animals in an enriched environment can significantly enhance functional outcome and can also interact with other interventions, including neocortical grafting. What role will neuronal progenitor cells play in future rehabilitation-stimulated in situ or as neural replacement? And what is the future for blocking neural growth inhibitory factors? Better knowledge of postischemic molecular and neurophysiological events, and close interaction between basic and applied research, will hopefully enable us to design rehabilitation strategies based on neurobiological principles in a not-too-distant future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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