Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Neuroplasticity and Me

7 Feb 2018 hard at work doing neuroplasticity

The word for the day is neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.  This ability is especially important if one has a brain injury, such as a stroke.  In neuroplasticity the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain can and will compensate for injury and disease.  These nerve cells will  adjust their activities in response to new situations.

It is not unlike pruning a tree or bush.  You whack a part off and you get new shoots popping out everywhere.  The white coats call it ‘axonal sprouting.’   Undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect to neurons with links that are damaged, severed, or dead.  These axons can reconnect to the nerve endings.  New pathways are made to allow your damaged brain parts to function.  One gets better over time. 

There is a catch though... you normally have to work at it.  If you do not work at it, then you may not recover your lost brain function, this includes both mental and physical abilities.  This is very serious stuff and you want to ‘work at it’ like an über-mensch.  But, it is necessary, if you want to recover from a brain injury, and be at a level equal to, or even beyond, your pre-stroke level.
nerve endings at work and play
I am recovering fairly well.  My recovery has come with an interesting phenomenon. As I recover I have had very intense, metaphysical, dreams. In these dreams, I have been visited by relatives and family that have passed on, i.e. the dead talk to me in my dreams.  I know the nature of consciousness is wildly complex.  Not there is a silver lining to a dark cloud of a stroke, but as I recover I have an awareness of consciousness that was not there pre-stroke.  It awakened me in a way. Something has changed in me, mentally, or a better way to say it is, with my consciousness, and my awareness of the universe. 

Dr Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain research scientist.  She had a devastating stroke in 1996; this was while she was a brain research scientist.  She has written a book of her recovery which I find remarkable in that she had metaphysical experiences, and a change in her thinking, or awareness, of consciousness, not only her consciousness, but that of the universe as well.  She used her stroke, or it allowed her to perceive, a connection to the universe.    By-the-way, it took her many years, but she did recover, and returned to work as a brain research scientist and wrote a best-selling book about her stroke and recovery.  Her book is My Stroke of Insight.

So the word for the day is Neuroplasticity.   Use it. 

© Barry R McCain 

1 comment:

Marguerita Pearce said...

Thank you for sharing this, my Scots-Irish brother! What seemed to be a interruption in your journey has revealed itself as an awakening. Slainte