Priming the brain to learn: the future of therapy?

Man Ther. 2012 Apr;17(2):184-6. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2011.12.001. Epub 2011 Dec 24.


Neuromodulatory techniques with the ability to alter cortical excitability are gaining interest for their potential to enhance the brain's sensitivity to traditional therapies. Neuromodulatory techniques that prime the brain prior to manual or exercise therapy hold therapeutic promise for enhancing clinical outcomes in musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. The integration of these techniques into physiotherapy practice represents an exciting opportunity for the therapists of the future. Here, an overview is provided of three neuromodulatory techniques (peripheral electrical stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) and the potential implications of these techniques for therapists discussed. Understanding these techniques and their therapeutic implications will ensure that therapists are well positioned to contribute to their clinical translation and adoption into clinical practice in an appropriate time frame. A therapeutic landscape defined by neuromodulatory techniques and improved clinical outcomes across a range of conditions is no longer far-fetched.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / trends*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*