Neural plasticity and treatment across the lifespan for motor deficits in cerebral palsy



    1. Baltimore VA Medical Center Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA; Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
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    The author declares no conflicts of interest.

George F Wittenberg at Baltimore VA Medical Center Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, 10 N Greene St (BT/18/QR) 21201 Baltimore, MD, USA. E-mail


The past decade of research in neuroscience and stroke rehabilitation has demonstrated that the adult brain is capable of recovery through physiological processes (often called ‘plasticity’). Some of the recovery is spontaneous and some is a result of experience, including interventions such as physical therapy, which probably enhance or activate changes in brain structure and function. There is virtually no literature on physiological changes in the brains of children or adults with cerebral palsy (CP) after an intervention. It is unclear whether the principles of plasticity that have been deduced from animal models of stroke might also apply to children and adults with CP. But children with CP should have the potential to respond to experience in a similar way to adults, with the additional potential of regulation of neuronal development in response to injury. This article describes mechanisms of plasticity and a rehabilitation strategy to preserve the substrates for motor control in CP and then to apply later therapies for more refinement of motor control.