Mind Over Matter
Constraint-Induced Movement therapy, developed by Edward Taub (above, right), has allowed hundreds of patients to regain use of affected limbs.
Forty years ago, most scientists believed the adult brain was set in stone, unable either to grow or fix itself when damaged. But UAB neuroscientist Edward Taub, Ph.D., had another idea. Taub theorized that the brain’s ability to learn could be harnessed to repair injuries caused by diseases such as stroke.
Building on his research, Taub developed Constraint-Induced Movement (CI) therapy and began using it to help stroke patients in the early 1990s. CI therapy, the first explicit clinical application of neuroplasticity in the adult brain, forces patients to accomplish tasks with their poorly functioning limbs through intensive training. The process kick-starts the brain’s self-healing program.
Virtually all of Taub’s hundreds of CI therapy patients have seen substantial improvement in their ability to use their affected limbs; recent studies have shown that the therapy actually increases the brain’s gray matter. CI therapy is now in use worldwide, helping to treat conditions including cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury.