Movement therapy induced neural reorganization and motor recovery in stroke: a review

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2011 Oct;15(4):528-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.01.023. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


This paper is a review conducted to provide an overview of accumulated evidence on contemporary rehabilitation methods for stroke survivors. Loss of functional movement is a common consequence of stroke for which a wide range of interventions has been developed. Traditional therapeutic approaches have shown limited results for motor deficits as well as lack evidence for their effectiveness. Stroke rehabilitation is now based on the evidence of neuroplasticity, which is responsible for recovery following stroke. The neuroplastic changes in the structure and function of relevant brain areas are induced primarily by specific rehabilitation methods. The therapeutic method which induces neuroplastic changes, leads to greater motor and functional recovery than traditional methods. Further, the recovery is permanent in nature. During the last decade various novel stroke rehabilitative methods for motor recovery have been developed. This review focuses on the methods that have evidence of associated cortical level reorganization, namely task-specific training, constraint-induced movement therapy, robotic training, mental imaging, and virtual training. All of these methods utilize principles of motor learning. The findings from this review demonstrated convincing evidence both at the neural and functional level in response to such therapies. The main aim of the review was to determine the evidence for these methods and their application into clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Recovery of Function
  • Robotics
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted