Purpose: This paper reviews 10 principles of experience-dependent neural plasticity and considerations in applying them to the damaged brain.
Method: Neuroscience research using a variety of models of learning, neurological disease, and trauma are reviewed from the perspective of basic neuroscientists but in a manner intended to be useful for the development of more effective clinical rehabilitation interventions.
Results: Neural plasticity is believed to be the basis for both learning in the intact brain and relearning in the damaged brain that occurs through physical rehabilitation. Neuroscience research has made significant advances in understanding experience-dependent neural plasticity, and these findings are beginning to be integrated with research on the degenerative and regenerative effects of brain damage. The qualities and constraints of experience-dependent neural plasticity are likely to be of major relevance to rehabilitation efforts in humans with brain damage. However, some research topics need much more attention in order to enhance the translation of this area of neuroscience to clinical research and practice.
Conclusion: The growing understanding of the nature of brain plasticity raises optimism that this knowledge can be capitalized upon to improve rehabilitation efforts and to optimize functional outcome.