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Rehabilitation Neuroscience: Advancing translational recovery

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Neurological conditions have a tremendous adverse impact on daily life and function. However, many rehabilitation treatments are primarily inspired by learning approaches from educational, developmental, or industrial/organizational science. Information about the systematic function and dysfunction of the ...

Neurological conditions have a tremendous adverse impact on daily life and function. However, many rehabilitation treatments are primarily inspired by learning approaches from educational, developmental, or industrial/organizational science. Information about the systematic function and dysfunction of the brain and nervous system is invaluable for accurate, valid assessment of disabling neurological deficits, and for developing treatment methods with new levels of efficacy.

Pober et al. (FASEB, 2001) wrote that translational research spans research development stages, disciplines, settings and methodologies, and thus is uniquely vulnerable to theoretical and practical errors made in the process of combining approaches and methods, before the plan is executed. Translation is thus properly considered a "new form of research" and even "a new discipline" requiring special skills, resources, and innovation. In rehabilitation research, this process can break down, because very few researchers in basic or acute clinical environments are familiar with the rehabilitation setting, its outcome measures, or its clinical disciplines. Rehabilitation clinicians are similarly often unaware of the processes and assumptions of behavioral and biological neuroscience.

What we know, and what are open questions:
The unifying theme in rehabilitation neuroscience is the need to systematically analyze brain-behavior relationships before, during and after treatment. Although much has been accomplished in knowledge-gathering about laboratory phenomena (unconnected to body structure and function problems) and clinical impairments (body structure and function problems associated with disorders), a translational knowledge gap exists such that most symptoms referred for rehabilitation are not yet linked to specific brain-behavior networks or systems. Further, even in the networks and systems that are relatively defined (e.g. the motor system), there is not consistent brain-behavior analysis during and after the process of treatment, so that changes at the level of clinical impairment are not clearly defined with respect to their neuroanatomic, neuropharmacologic, or basic behavioral mechanisms.

Lastly, translational neuroscience of rehabilitation needs to begin defining relationships between phenomena, impairments, and functional performance. Identifying a cluster or stratum of functional-related impairments and phenomena amenable to rehabilitation intervention can serve to focus and prioritize research efforts, and increase the return on neurorehabilitation investment. Such translational approaches are also potentially "personalized," because they can be targeted to specific impairments and needs.

Studies submitted to this issue will need to fit the following format

State the symptom to be rehabilitated that is the focus for the paper
Identify candidate brain-behavior networks and systems which may be critical to treatment assignment and treatment outcomes
Present data that supports or clarifies the relationship of the symptom to brain-behavior networks
In addition: studies presenting new brain-behavior models relevant to neurorehabilitation of clinical symptoms are preferred

We will consider rehabilitation science studies across the continuum of activities including motor function and mobility, spatial function, action, and linguistic, memory, and other neuropsychological functions. Studies concerning different etiologies of neurological deficits, and studies focused on the behavior of healthy subjects, are welcome so long as they serve the primary goal of advancing a theoretical and translational framewor


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