Brain Adapts Quickly to a Broken Arm

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 21, 2012

Brain adapts quickly to a broken arm

Swiss researchers have come to a conclusion that the brain does not take long to determine that it needs to function differently after the incidence of a broken arm. According to the study, people with a broken limb such as an arm can quickly adjust to their new circumstance, at most in 2 weeks, and be more confident of using their other arm.


The research mapped brain activity of a person whose one arm was in a sling or a cast. Within two weeks, there was an increase in the area of the brain responsible for the mostly used limb such as the right arm, and increase in activity was noticed in areas responsible for the other limb such as the left hand. This happens while the limb that has been injured, i.e. the right hand in this example, heals. This is an important finding for people who need to rely on their lesser used limb, and also for people who have had a stroke and are trying to recuperate for regaining their motor skills.


According to Nicolas Langer, the University of Zurich neuropsychology researcher, these results are bound to be very beneficial for the rehabilitation therapy for people suffering from strokes and related problems. The scientist involved in the research scanned to know how well the researchers used their left hand after their dominant right hand was immobilised for 14 days. It was revealed that the brain’s left hemisphere that is associated with the use of right hand had decreased in size. The shift was considerable when compared with the same scans taken after 2 days of the injury.


The areas of the brain that are linked to use of the left hand were visibly increased in size, allowing the injured person better control of the uninjured arm. Stated simply, the brain had recognised that the dominant arm was in sling and needed to recuperate from damage, and so accordingly it had shifted the control to those areas of the brain that could enable better use of the left hand.


 It was visibly observed that as soon as the injured person started to use his left hand, for any activity from clicking a mouse to buttoning of shirt, the areas of the right hemisphere of the brain registered much more increased activity.  The researchers emphasised that it showed how well and quickly the brain can adapt to a situation.



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