Researchers from the University of Zurich have demonstrated that the thickness of the left brain areas is reduced while the areas on the right hand side that compensate for the injury increase in size. The fine motor skills of the compensating hand also improve considerably. The results of the study are significant for the treatment of strokes, in which the immobilization of an arm or a leg is central.
What happens in the brain of right-handed people if their dominant hand is immobile for two weeks? This is the question addressed in the latest study led by Professor Lutz Jäncke and the Trauma Surgery Department at Zurich University Hospital. For the study, ten right-handed people with broken upper right arms were examined. Because of the plaster or sling, the test people’s right hands were restricted to little or no movement for fourteen days.
Therefore they used their left hands for daily activities such as eating, brushing their teeth or writing. The participants were given two MRI brain scans: one 48 hours after injury and a second 16 days after the arm was immobilized. Based on the scans, the neuropsychologists analyzed the test people’s gray and white brain matter. They calculated the thickness of the cerebral cortex and the values of the corticospinal tract and measured the fine motor skills of the left, free-moving hand.
Nathalie Huber | idw
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