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Nat Rev Neurol. 2011 Feb;7(2):76-85. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2010.200. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Neuroplasticity in the context of motor rehabilitation after stroke.

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Human Cortical Physiology and Stroke Neurorehabilitation Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-1428, USA.


Approximately one-third of patients with stroke exhibit persistent disability after the initial cerebrovascular episode, with motor impairments accounting for most poststroke disability. Exercise and training have long been used to restore motor function after stroke. Better training strategies and therapies to enhance the effects of these rehabilitative protocols are currently being developed for poststroke disability. The advancement of our understanding of the neuroplastic changes associated with poststroke motor impairment and the innate mechanisms of repair is crucial to this endeavor. Pharmaceutical, biological and electrophysiological treatments that augment neuroplasticity are being explored to further extend the boundaries of poststroke rehabilitation. Potential motor rehabilitation therapies, such as stem cell therapy, exogenous tissue engineering and brain-computer interface technologies, could be integral in helping patients with stroke regain motor control. As the methods for providing motor rehabilitation change, the primary goals of poststroke rehabilitation will be driven by the activity and quality of life needs of individual patients. This Review aims to provide a focused overview of neuroplasticity associated with poststroke motor impairment, and the latest experimental interventions being developed to manipulate neuroplasticity to enhance motor rehabilitation.

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