Neurorehabilitation: applied neuroplasticity

J Neurol. 2017 Mar;264(3):603-615. doi: 10.1007/s00415-016-8307-9. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


The prevalence of disability due to neurological conditions is escalating worldwide. Neurological disorders have significant disability-burden with long-term functional and psychosocial issues, requiring specialized rehabilitation services for comprehensive management, especially treatments tapping into brain recovery 'neuroplastic' processes. Neurorehabilitation is interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial, requiring coordinated effort of diverse sectors, professions, patients and community to manage complex condition-related disability. This review provides evidence for a range of neurorehabilitation interventions for four common neurological conditions: multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, traumatic brain injury and Parkinson's disease using the Grade of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation tool for quality of evidence. Although, existing best-evidence for many interventions is still sparse, the overall findings suggest 'strong' evidence for physical therapy and psychological intervention for improved patient outcomes; and. 'moderate' evidence for multidisciplinary rehabilitation for longer term gains at the levels of activity (disability) and participation in MS and stroke population. The effect of other rehabilitation interventions is inconclusive, due to a paucity of methodologically robust studies. More research is needed to improve evidence-base for many promising rehabilitation interventions.

Keywords: Disability; Neurological disorder; Neuroplasticity; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / rehabilitation
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation
  • Neurological Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation
  • Stroke / physiopathology