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Open AccessFeature PaperCase Report

“Paralympic Brain”. Compensation and Reorganization of a Damaged Human Brain with Intensive Physical Training

1
Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 1538902, Japan
2
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Institute of Liberal Arts, Kitakyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu 8048550, Japan
3
Department of Education, Graduate School of Education, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 1130033, Japan
4
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA
5
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo 1020083, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sports 2020, 8(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8040046
Received: 28 January 2020 / Revised: 23 March 2020 / Accepted: 2 April 2020 / Published: 7 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neuromuscular Function and Movement Control)
The main aim of the study was to evaluate how the brain of a Paralympic athlete with severe disability due to cerebral palsy has reorganized after continuous training geared to enhance performance. Both corticospinal excitability of upper-limb muscles and electromyographic activity during swimming were investigated for a Paralympic gold medalist in swimming competitions. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the affected and intact hand motor cortical area revealed that the affected side finger muscle cortical representation area shifted towards the temporal side, and cortico-spinal excitability of the target muscle was prominently facilitated, i.e., the maximum motor evoked potential in the affected side, 6.11 ± 0.19 mV was greater than that in the intact side, 4.52 ± 0.39 mV (mean ± standard error). Electromyographic activities during swimming demonstrated well-coordinated patterns as compared with rather spastic activities observed in the affected side during walking on land. These results suggest that the ability of the brain to reorganize through intensive training in Paralympic athletes can teach interesting lessons to the field neurorehabilitation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Paralympic sports; case study; female; motivation; electromyography (EMG); swimming; neurorehabilitation Paralympic sports; case study; female; motivation; electromyography (EMG); swimming; neurorehabilitation
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Nakazawa, K.; Obata, H.; Nozaki, D.; Uehara, S.; Celnik, P. “Paralympic Brain”. Compensation and Reorganization of a Damaged Human Brain with Intensive Physical Training. Sports 2020, 8, 46.

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