Alice, OT from Insurance, is a wonderful member of Corey’s team. She typically works with Autistic patients; however, she has experience with TBI patients as well. As Alice says, her driving time is her thinking time. Those thoughts led her to several journal publications studying Neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is a non-specific neuroscience term referring to the ability of the brain and nervous system in all species to change structurally and functionally as a result of input from the environment. Plasticity occurs on a variety of levels, ranging from cellular changes involved in learning, to large-scale changes involved in cortical remapping in response to injury. The most widely recognized forms of plasticity are learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage. During most of the 20th century, the general consensus among neuroscientists was that brain structure is relatively immutable after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by new findings, revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood. ~ Wikapedia
Thinking about Corey’s recent change in response and behavior, she thought of the extreme sensitivity that many of her autistic patients have to their environment and their volatile reaction to the sensory overload/input. Everything in our environment sends a message to the brain. When we see, touch, smell, taste or hear anything, it sends messages to the brain that will then be routed to the rest of the body to either speak, move a limb, create a swallow, or respond in some way to the stimulus.
When a person has had a brain injury, the messages no longer take the same route. At one time it was thought that once the neurons were dead, they were lost and would never regenerate. It is now proven that the brain does in fact regenerate and re-route the neurons developing new connections between the neurons. It’s as if the road was closed but there is a detour to follow. This can be achieved with repetition and sensory stimulation. If the sensory impulses can be initiated by the external environment, the brain will respond accordingly teaching the individual to dampen the reactions and respond appropriately and with heightened functionality. The sensory impulses are initiated through passive exercises such as a light brush stroke on the skin, massage, meditation and exercise.
Michael Merzenich is a neuroscientist who has been one of the pioneers of brain plasticity for over three decades. He has made some of “the most ambitious claims for the field – that brain exercises may be as useful as drugs to treat diseases as severe as schizophrenia – that plasticity exists from cradle to the grave, and that radical improvements in cognitive functioning – how we learn, think, perceive, and remember are possible even in the elderly ~ Wikapedia
We will be trying some new “exercises” with Corey focusing on sensory input/stimulation. After the trials, she will be tested (naturally Insurance wants proof of functional improvement). It is thought that if we initiate the sensory impulses, it will assist with the end of the sensory loop which is motor control, memory and increased cognition resulting in the functional improvement Insurance is grading.
Corey 11 months ago the doctors told me that you had a global brain trauma; a diffused axonal injury. All the little fibers that held your brain to the skull were severed. All the neurons in each hemisphere were most likely dead. No one could say what you would be able to regain. No one could say if you would speak, walk, cognitively process any information, have a memory or have any function at all.
This has been one hell of a detour kid, but you are finding your own roads back! I can only imagine what scenery we will continue to experience as we travel following your new map. Keep ignoring those road blocks Corey! Xoxo
We wish you a fun, safe and relaxing “long” weekend as summer ends and fall begins. We have a few activities planned for the weekend and I’m hoping to catch up on some long overdue sleep! I’m going to sign off until Monday but just think of the update after 4 days. Happy Labor Day weekend all! Love the Beattie’s