Study finds brain changes when dominate body part injury occurs
January 18, 2012
Falls among the senior population are quite prevalent as one in three are predicted to fall each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many researchers are looking to find new techniques to help seniors ward off falls altogether, a recent study looked to see if peoples' bodies adapt to help them if they break a dominate body part, such as an arm.
To find this out, researchers from the Trauma Surgery Department at Zurich University Hospital recruited 10 right-handed patients who broke their dominant arm. Scientists wanted to see if the brain would work to make their left arms stronger while the dominate arm was immobilized.
Researchers analyzed this by taking a MRI brain scan 48 hours after the patients' injuries occurred and again 16 days after. They tested the thickness of the cerebral cortex and measured the fine motor skills of each participant's left hand.
From the results, researchers found that in just 16 days the sensory and motor brain areas that control the right hand decreased, while similar areas in the brain that control the left hand grew.
Falls among the elderly should be avoided as much as possible for their own safety, but this news may help them live with certain injuries should they take a tumble. Seniors living alone may want some additional security as well, which can be obtained by installing a medical alert system. This wearable device gives elders a way to call for help should an emergency occur.