Fortunately, the brain has an incredible capacity to heal itself following a catastrophic damage. This characteristic is known as neuroplasticity, and it is the reason why many brain damage patients may heal so quickly. Following a stroke for example, the area of brain that was affected will undergo changes at both the anatomical and functional level. The nerve cells in this region will die, but new connections between them will be formed by their surrounding tissue. This process is called neural plasticity and it is one of the reasons why some people recover so well from such a devastating illness or accident.
However, this ability of the brain to repair itself follows certain rules. One rule is that the patient must have an adequate amount of oxygen delivered to the brain at all times. If this condition is not met, then the brain will suffer irreversible damage. Another rule is that sufficient time must pass after the injury occurs before we can expect to see any change taking place within the brain of the patient.
Finally, the type of damage done to the brain also affects how it heals. If there is no further damage done (i.e., the patient does not suffer another stroke), then he or she will eventually regain most of their previous abilities. However, if the patient continues to suffer from the same problem again and again, they will become more and more impaired until finally they will require constant care and supervision.
Is it possible for the brain to repair once it has been injured? Most studies indicate that once brain cells are killed or injured, they do not regenerate. However, recovery from a brain damage is possible, especially in younger people, since other parts of the brain may compensate for the injured tissue in some situations. This process is called neuroplasticity.
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), many patients suffer from long-term cognitive problems that affect their ability to work and lead normal lives. Although there is no cure for TBI, recent research shows that cognitive deficits can be minimized if the patient receives treatment quickly after the injury has occurred. This indicates that brain damage can be repaired if it is done so within a certain time frame after the injury.
The brain is very sensitive to oxygen deprivation and will begin to deteriorate immediately if adequate blood flow isn't restored within minutes. Therefore, efforts should be made to maintain adequate blood flow to prevent further damage to the brain tissue. This can be achieved by performing a quick and accurate assessment of the patient's condition followed by appropriate interventions if needed.
Brain injuries can be classified according to type: open or closed. An "open" injury involves removing part of the skull that protects the brain. This could be due to an accident where someone gets hit in the head with a rock or object, or is stabbed with a knife or axe.
However, healing from a brain damage is possible because, in certain situations, other parts of the brain compensate for the injured tissue. This process is called neural plasticity. Neural plasticity allows the brain to adapt to changes and injuries.
After an injury to the brain, some cells are lost and others may be damaged, causing physical and mental changes. Recovery depends on the type and severity of the injury. If all or most of the injured tissue is removed, the patient will generally recover fully after some time. But if the injury affects many cells in several regions of the brain, the patient might experience lasting effects known as neurological deficits.
Neural stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can proliferate and give rise to different types of neurons and glial cells. Studies have shown that these cells are able to migrate to sites of damage within the brain and initiate the regeneration of nerve fibers between their own cell bodies and the surrounding tissue. This process is called neuroregeneration. Research on animals has shown that this ability persists even after they reach adulthood. However, due to the fact that our brains are composed of billions of cells that cannot be regenerated once they are dead, any future treatment will have to include ways to stimulate neural plasticity.
Scientists now understand that the brain has an incredible potential to adapt and mend itself in response to mental experiences. This process, known as neuroplasticity, is regarded as one of the most significant advances in contemporary science in terms of our knowledge of the brain. It has been demonstrated through studies on patients who have sustained severe injuries to parts of their brains, causing many cognitive problems associated with paralysis or blindness.
After a stroke or other brain injury, some people show improvement over time at doing things like balancing a checkbook or solving puzzles. This improvement is called neurological recovery and it's due to the growth of new nerve cells and changes occurring within existing neurons. Scientists have shown that this growth can even lead to improvements in cognitive functions such as memory, perception, reasoning, language, and judgment. In other words, the brain is capable of remarkable healing if given enough time.
However, this does not mean that you cannot suffer from lasting damage after traumatic events. A lot of research efforts are currently focused on finding ways to minimize the impact of trauma on the brain and on developing treatments that could promote neural repair. At present, there is no evidence that shows what degree of neurological impairment results from exposure to violence on TV, in movies, or online. However, we do know that repeated episodes of psychological stress can cause chronic inflammation of the brain, which may lead to further cognitive problems.
In the spared areas of the brain, brain damage increases neuronal plasticity. This permits the neurons in these locations to take up the sensory or motor duties that the injured parts had been doing. This remapping of function (which is analogous to creating a new map) is crucial in function recovery. However, excessive remodeling can lead to inappropriate connections being made, which could cause additional problems.
After a stroke or other type of brain injury, some neurons die immediately while others may survive for several months or even years. The survival of these damaged cells is a major factor in determining how much functional loss will be experienced by the patient. If most or all of the neurons are lost, there will be no recovery from the injury.
It is estimated that about 20 percent of neurons in the cerebral cortex and about 50 percent of those in the hippocampus die after an episode of severe acute stress such as trauma or stroke.
The remaining neurons may remain dormant for some time after the insult, but eventually they, too, will die. In fact, studies have shown that almost all neurons are replaced by their collateral connections within five years; however, many of these connections are likely to be inappropriate. Thus, even with extensive rehabilitation, many patients are left with symptoms due to lack of stimulation of these dead neurons.
Neuronal replacement therapy aims to stimulate this endogenous neurogenesis after brain injury or disease.