Neuroplasticity – 1000 Repetitions a Day!

I remember learning about neuroplasticity in university, and it tweaked my interest to the point where my textbook at the time became my favourite thing to read over my morning coffee. Since then, I’ve learnt more and more about it- in fact, I see it in action on the daily- and it still never ceases to amaze me how amazing our brains really are.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt itself as we need it to over the period of our life. Our brain is made up of neurons, and these neurons form pathways (almost like a map). This is how we transmit messages from one part of the brain to another, and from the brain to the body. The neurons in our brain can grow and rearrange themselves to form new pathways when required- this is how we learn new skills, store new memories, get better at things, and it’s how we improve after a brain injury.

Scientists used to believe that neuroplasticity stopped when we hit our mid twenties, and that after this point your brain was fully wired and mapped out, so to speak. They now know that this is untrue, and that actually, our brain is capable of forming new connections (with a bit of time and effort) at any stage. It turns out you really can teach an old dog new tricks!

We take full advantage of neuroplasticity at Geelong and Surrounds Occupational Therapy. When a brain is damaged (whether that be from a stroke, a tumour, a traumatic brain injury, anything), a part of the therapy we can provide is encouraging the brain to lay down new pathways to get AROUND the damaged piece of tissue within the brain. This is almost like finding an alternative route to a destination on google maps, only the destination might be something like learning to tie up your hair, or make a cup of coffee. This is no mean feat, it requires a tremendous amount of effort. This doesn’t just happen without practice and there is evidence to suggest that it takes 900-1000 repetitions of a skill to cause neuroplasticity to occur.

If anyone can find me an ability of the human body cooler than neuroplasticity, I’m all ears. Until then, I’m remaining firm on my opinion that this is definitely one of the most interesting things our bodies can do! And who knows, maybe next time I’ll write a blog on how to harness these special neuroplastic powers..

Geelong Neuro Centre is a registered NDIS provider.

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