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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2008;45(2):229-40.

Activity-dependent plasticity in spinal cord injury.

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Center for Adaptive Neural Systems, Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-9709, USA.


The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) is capable of considerable plasticity, both in health and disease. After spinal neurotrauma, the degrees and extent of neuroplasticity and recovery depend on multiple factors, including the level and extent of injury, postinjury medical and surgical care, and rehabilitative interventions. Rehabilitation strategies focus less on repairing lost connections and more on influencing CNS plasticity for regaining function. Current evidence indicates that strategies for rehabilitation, including passive exercise, active exercise with some voluntary control, and use of neuroprostheses, can enhance sensorimotor recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI) by promoting adaptive structural and functional plasticity while mitigating maladaptive changes at multiple levels of the neuraxis. In this review, we will discuss CNS plasticity that occurs both spontaneously after SCI and in response to rehabilitative therapies.

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