The brains of disabled people adjust to a wheelchair and treat it as an extension of their body, essentially replacing limbs that don't function properly anymore, new research suggests.
At issue is what scientists call "brain plasticity," which describes the brain's ability to learn and adjust, something people do quite often when young and continue to do as they get older.
"If we learn how to play a piano or drive somewhere, that's plasticity in action," said Dr Alexander Dromerick, chief of rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC.
"To elude dangerous objects in the environment and the collisions that may occur during wheelchair use, the brain needs to encode an internal representation of the body that includes the wheelchair," she said.
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