From Rat to Monkey, Brains Recover
Baby Animal Brains Recover Better
Adult Human Brains Recover
Baby Human Brains Do Not Recover?
The baby orangutan and the baby human are in step at this moment in time, but the baby human brain will not reach maturity for another 20+ years. The neuroplasticity mechanisms for regrowth, repair and reorganization are well recognized in adult human brains after injury. Unfortunately, for a child with cerebral palsy or other early-acquired brain injury, the future is still what it used to be. Commonly accepted medical wisdom and the official medical and scientific organizations state that cerebral palsy cannot be cured. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/cerebral_palsy.htm
This attitude is surprising. A poor outcome for the child with cerebral palsy is not what you would expect from animal studies. It has been demonstrated in many species that young animals recover faster and more completely than adult animals. If cerebral palsy truly cannot be cured, then we would have to believe that baby human brains work to a different set of rules. This is illogical at best!
Human neuroplasticity is one of the most important medical discoveries of the past 50 years. It offers new hope to people with a wide variety of neurological problems and even provides hope of improved or restored brain function to the aging baby boomer. The ability of the human brain to grow new cells, to repair damaged cells, and to re- organize the function of different parts of the brain are all characteristics of a process called neuroplasticity. This process of repair and reorganization is a scientific fact, elegantly demonstrated in humans by brain scanning techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. The old facts, the cherished beliefs of the past, must be reexamined and discarded if seen to be false.
The first “old fact” that must be dispelled is the often stated opinion that baby brain injury is permanent and irreversible. The skeptics who cling to the way things have always been will ask, “What proof is there that a child’s brain can recover from brain injury?” You will not find any claims of cure in the cerebral palsy literature. However, if you look outside the narrow focus of cerebral palsy treatment centers, there is ample evidence of both recovery from and cure of early brain damage. Roughly 30% of babies with a documented abnormality on an early brain scan have a full functional recovery. Yet, in spite of this knowledge, that is common to all the professionals in the NICU, parents are still told that there is no hope of a cure and cerebral palsy can at best be somewhat improved with therapy. Human neuroplasticity offers the real hope that all baby brains have the potential for recovery and some children can be cured.
Please note: These are two of my previous posts on the same topic. It is now nearly 3 years later and there is still not much in the way of institutional change.
Posted October 2, 2012
A New Way of Thinking About Recovery – Neuroplasticity Exists
Posted November 8, 2012
A New Way of Thinking about Cure
It is time for a call to action within all of the Cerebral Palsy Communities. If we all work together, our voices will be heard.
My personal BHAG is “Cure for Some, Improvement for All”
What do you think?
As ever, your comments and questions are welcome.