When you change someone’s brain …

The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans
Daniel Amen, MD

brain rehabilitation problem

Reversing brain damage in former NFL players: Implications for traumatic brain injury and substance abuse rehabilitation

Terry Wallis emerged from MCS (2006)

‘Miracle recovery’ shows brain’s resilience
Man who ‘awoke’ after 19 years shows how nerve cells can regrow.
Nature. 3 July 2006

Terry Wallis became a media star in 2003 when he emerged from the minimally conscious state (MCS) in which he had spent 19 years, since suffering severe brain damage in a motor accident.

Patients in an MCS are ‘awake’, but cannot produce coordinated movements or speech, and are unable to express their thoughts and feelings.
But after his recovery, Wallis regained the power of speech, and his movements, although still severely hampered

Although Wallis had been in an MCS for almost two decades, the condition was only formally classified in 2002.

It also remains unclear whether the brain is capable of similar resilience in patients with more serious conditions, such as coma or persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which the patient is completely uncommunicative and displays no more than reflex responses.
“There’s a big difference between these two conditions,” notes Voss.

Tickling a rat’s whiskers prevents brain damage

Layout of the whisker sensory pathway. (2008)

The Healing Power of Touch: Tickling Reduces Stroke-Induced Brain Damage in Rats
Tickling a rat’s whiskers after it has a stroke prevents brain damage
July 11, 2011

A team led by professor Ron Frostig of the University of California, Irvine, induced strokes in rats by blocking an artery to the brain. The researchers then stimulated their whiskers, in­tending to measure the rats’ brain activity to learn how the stroke damage affected sensory functions. Instead they found that if they vibrated a single whisker within two hours of the stroke, neurons that ordinarily would have died continued to function normally, and the rats ended up with no paralysis or sensory deficits. The exact mechanism of the protective effect is not clear, but it seems to involve a rerouting of blood through undamaged veins in the brain.