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Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy

Print version ISSN 1413-3555

Abstract

CARR, JH  and  SHEPHERD, RB. The changing face of neurological rehabilitation. Rev. bras. fisioter. [online]. 2006, vol.10, n.2, pp. 147-156. ISSN 1413-3555.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-35552006000200003.

BACKGROUND: Neurological rehabilitation and the contribution of physical therapy have changed considerably over the past decades as scientific and technological developments have enabled greater understanding of brain reorganization and the mechanisms of motor control, motor performance, impairments and adaptations. OBJECTIVE: This paper presents a historical perspective covering the last half-century. DISCUSSION: Current scientific research, and the subsequent reevaluation of the functional effects of impairments following an upper motor neuron lesion, is leading to a changing focus in clinical interventions, with emphasis on optimizing motor performance through task-oriented exercise and training, strength and fitness training. Findings in both animal and human models suggest that, for rehabilitation to be effective in optimizing neural reorganization and functional recovery, increased emphasis needs to be placed on challenging, engaging and meaningful task training, to promote learning. The issues of the intensity of task training and extent of cardiovascular stress during physical activity are also discussed. Although there is much to become excited about in the findings from clinical research, clinical practice in neurorehabilitation continues to vary widely and depends largely on the preferred approach of the individual therapist and on the continuing dominance of therapeutic methods developed half a century ago. Physiotherapists need to embrace the responsibility of using evidence-based, or at least scientifically acceptable, methods of intervention and objective measurements of outcome.

Keywords : neurorehabilitation; functional recovery; task-oriented exercise; training.

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