Promoting Neuroplasticity for Motor Rehabilitation After Stroke: Considering the Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Genetic Variation on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

Cameron S. Mang, Kristin L. Campbell, Colin J. D. Ross, Lara A. Boyd

Discussion Podcast: Neuroplasticity and Genetic Variation

Participants: Cameron Mang, BPE, MSc, PhD candidate, Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Lara Boyd, PT, PhD, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia; and Steven Wolf, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Professor, Division of Physical Therapy, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Moderator: James Carey, PT, PhD, Professor, Program in Physical Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Editorial Board member, PTJ.

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Files in this Data Supplement:

  • Discussion Podcast - Recent research has shown that increased brain neuroplasticity is a key element in recovery of motor function after stroke and that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a key facilitator in neuroplasticity. In a recent PTJ Perspective article (December 2013), which Steven Wolf calls "remarkably timely" for clinicians and students, Cameron Mang and colleagues examined how aerobic exercise could be used to increase the secretion of BDNF and thus "prime the brain for neuroplasticity." They also looked at how genetic variations affect the production of BDNF. In this PTJ podcast, authors Cameron Mang and Lara Boyd join Steven Wolf and moderator James Carey to discuss the role of aerobic exercise in enhancing neuroplasticity and how genetic variation can affect the response of a patient to poststroke rehabilitation. The group also discusses the amount and intensity of exercise needed to increase BDNF secretion and the future directions for research.

    Running time: 23:06 (32.3 MB).

    Discussion Podcast:
    Neuroplasticity and Genetic Variation

    Download the mp3 | Length: 23:06

    Quick Grabs

    Wolf: "For folks who are first learning about these genomic-rehabilitation interfaces, hopefully they will come to realize that this is a topical area that they're going to be faced with more and more."

    Carey: "Despite major progress in the understanding of neuroplasticity, very few new…interventions have resulted from this research. How do we know that the same thing's not going to happen here—that we come up with all this knowledge that doesn't translate into mainstream therapy?"

    Boyd: "In the United States, you have a law saying that based upon a genetic test, health insurance cannot be denied. Here in Canada, we don't have that legislation."


    Kigin CM, Rodgers MM, Wolf SL; for the PASS Committee Members. The Physical Therapy and Society Summit (PASS) Meeting: observations and opportunities. Phys Ther. 2010;90:1555–1567.

    Wolf SL. FiRST and foremost: advances in science and technology impacting neurologic physical therapy. J Neurol Phys Ther. 2013;37:147–148.

    Schiffer T, Schulte S, Sperlich B, et al. Lactate infusion at rest increases BDNF blood concentration in humans. Neurosci Lett. 2011;488:234–237.

    McDonnell MN, Buckley JD, Opie GM, et al. A single bout of aerobic exercise promotes motor cortical neuroplasticity. J Appl Physiol. 2013;114:1174–1182.

    23andMe website. Available at:

    Warraich Z, Kleim JA. Neural plasticity: the biological substrate for neurorehabilitation. PM R. 2010;2:S208–S219.

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