Spontaneous and Therapeutic-Induced Mechanisms of Functional Recovery After Stroke

Transl Stroke Res. 2017 Feb;8(1):33-46. doi: 10.1007/s12975-016-0467-5. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


With increasing rates of survival throughout the past several years, stroke remains one of the leading causes of adult disability. Following the onset of stroke, spontaneous mechanisms of recovery at the cellular, molecular, and systems levels ensue. The degree of spontaneous recovery is generally incomplete and variable among individuals. Typically, the best recovery outcomes entail the restitution of function in injured but surviving neural matter. An assortment of restorative therapies exists or is under development with the goal of potentiating restitution of function in damaged areas or in nearby ipsilesional regions by fostering neuroplastic changes, which often rely on mechanisms similar to those observed during spontaneous recovery. Advancements in stroke rehabilitation depend on the elucidation of both spontaneous and therapeutic-driven mechanisms of recovery. Further, the implementation of neural biomarkers in research and clinical settings will enable a multimodal approach to probing brain state and predicting the extent of post-stroke functional recovery. This review will discuss spontaneous and therapeutic-induced mechanisms driving post-stroke functional recovery while underscoring several potential restorative therapies and biomarkers.

Keywords: Biomarker; Neuroimaging; Plasticity; Rehabilitation; Repair; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Stroke / metabolism
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers