Modified from Kleim and Jones (2008) Principles of Experience-Dependent Neural Plasticity: Implications for Rehabilitation After Brain Damage .
1. Use It or Lose It
Movements and skills which are not practiced, may get more difficult. This may be due in part to a loss of the number and efficiency of connections in the brain.
2. Use It and Improve It
Exercise and training which drives a specific brain function can lead to an enhancement of that function.
Specificity of practice is important. In here fits the saying of "practice makes permanent, but only perfect practice makes perfect". For example: If you practice standing up using your less affected side to pull / push, and do not appropriately engage the affected side, then you will get better at standing like this, but it will not help to improve the use of your affected side during this task.
4. Repetition Matters
Neuroplasticity requires sufficient repetition. Movements or tasks need to be repeated over and over, in order to make long term changes to the brain.
5. Intensity Matters
High repetitions in a shorter time are needed to induce long term changes. Intensity of exercise and practice
6. Time Matters
In rehabilitation, starting earlier is usually better than starting later, but there is always potential for restructuring for improvements in movement and control.
7. Salience Matters
To train our brain, the movement or skill we are learning must have some meaning, relevance or importance to us.
8. Age Matters
Training-induced plasticity occurs more readily in younger brains. But improvement is possible at any age.
Plasticity in response to one training experience can enhance the acquisition of similar movements and skills. For example, practicing sitting to standing can improve the ability to stand and step.
Plasticity in response to one experience can interfere with the acquisition of other behaviors. For example, if you learn to move in bed using your better side to pull you across and to sit up, this may interfere with the acquisition of appropriate trunk muscle control for rolling, lying to sitting, and even appropriate use of trunk muscles for sitting and standing balance and walking.