Principles of rehabilitation of patients with neurologic disorders

Shanti Pinto MD (Dr. Pinto of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
Gary Galang MD (Dr. Galang of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
James G Greene MD PhD, editor. (Dr. Greene of Emory University School of Medicine has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
Originally released March 21, 2017; expires March 21, 2020


In this article, the authors focus on rehabilitation of patients with acquired brain injury from both traumatic and nontraumatic causes. Rehabilitative strategies include both restorative therapies that serve to regain function and compensatory strategies that allow for compensation of lost function. Rehabilitation can occur in both inpatient and outpatient settings and involves multiple providers, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists. This review will focus on the functional impairments that arise from acquired brain injury and the role of rehabilitative strategies to enhance neurologic recovery and improved functional outcomes.

Key points


• Acquired brain injury is a leading cause of disability in the United States.


• Neuroplasticity refers to reorganization of neural connections to allow for functional recovery after acquired brain injury.


• Early rehabilitation is important for neuroplasticity and improved neurologic recovery, and task-specific therapies are the most effective.


• Compensatory strategies can be particularly helpful for the rehabilitation of patients with dysphagia, visual impairments, and neglect.

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