Cortical plasticity is the brain’s capability of decoding new information through growth and reorganization over our whole life spam. It is the basis for good outcomes after reinnervation and for rehabilitation of adult and obstetric brachial plexus injury. Knowledge about cortical reorganization is crucial to reconstructive surgeons and physiotherapists that aim to give their patients a reasonable prognosis. This chapter intends to present and summarize the current literature on how to detect and quantify cortical plasticity and how research on factors that influence cortical plasticity, mainly in relation to peripheral nerve and more precise brachial plexus injury progresses. Peculiarities of adult and obstetric brachial plexus injuries and their treatment are given. We present techniques that visualize and quantify cortical plasticity with focus on functional imaging like fMRI and nTMS as well as molecular aspects. Future research is needed to understand mechanisms of how molecular changes on a synaptic level of a neuron influence the macroscopic plasticity, to improve rehabilitative resources, to understand the exact prognostic value of nTMS in brachial plexus injury and to investigate the therapeutic capability of rTMS.
Part of the book: Brachial Plexus Injury