Does Neuroplasticity Improve When You Speak Versus Just Moving?

Neuroplasticity is the brain ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This ability is what allows us to learn and remember new information, and it is thought to be key in recovery from brain injury. There is evidence that neuroplasticity can be enhanced through certain types of therapy, including movement-based therapies such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. But does speaking also promote neuroplasticity?

A recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE explored this question by looking at the effect of two types of therapy on brain plasticity in stroke survivors. The first group received aphasia therapy, which focuses on improving language skills. The second group received constraint-induced movement therapy, which involves constraining the use of the unaffected arm and hand in order to encourage use of the affected side. Both groups showed improvements in neuroplasticity, but the group that received aphasia therapy showed greater improvements in language skills.

These findings suggest that both types of therapy can help improve brain plasticity after a stroke, but that aphasia therapy may be more effective for improving language skills. If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, consider speak with a speech-language pathologist or other health care professional about the best type of therapy for you.

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