Pushing the Limits of Brain Repair via the 5 pillars of Brain Health

Keynote Presenter: Sandra Chapman


The brain is our most important organ, so building and maintaining its health is paramount throughout life but especially during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Can our youth who sustain a brain injury (or more than one) achieve brain health? What does brain health even mean in this day when headlines proclaim the immediate and lasting effects of head injuries? These are vital questions to address since research informs us that an injury to the developing brain may have later emerging negative consequences. Neuroscience has revealed the brain’s immense capability for neuroplasticity not only in health but also after injury. Following brain injury, the brain can undergo both negative (e.g., due to maladaptive strategies) and positive plasticity (e.g., adaptive strategies). The most complex ‘engine’ in the known universe requires an integrated approach as it will not be understood, repaired or enhanced to the greatest degree possible by taking a narrow siloed approach. This presentation will specify five core pillars that contribute to brain health and brain repair which include (1) neural health (e.g., cortical growth, increased brain blood flow, increased synaptic connectivity), (2) cognitive/linguistic/learning performance (e.g., reasoning, innovation, speed of learning), (3) psychological health status (e.g., well-being, happiness, resilience), (4) real life functionality (success in daily life)and (5) socio-emotional cognition (social adeptness). To push the limits on brain repair, this presentation will share some of the specific ways we are discovering to monitor and harness the 5 pillars of brain health at regular time points post injury to proactively seek continued brain optimization in youth and across the lifespan.

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