Harvard Mental Health Letter

The life-changing potential of neuroplasticity

Dr. Adam Wolfberg, a physician at Tufts Medical Center, specializing in high-risk pregnancies explores the brain's ability to compensate for injury by recounting his daughter's premature birth and early years. In 2002, when his wife Kelly was about six-and-a-half months pregnant, she went into early labor. Soon afterward she gave birth to their daughter Larissa, who was born weighing a little under 2 pounds — at the very cusp of survival. Because Larissa Wolfberg was born at 26 weeks of gestation, her doctors could not predict what her future would hold. In his book, Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU, Dr. Wolfberg not only provides a look at the tremendous strengths and limitations of newborn intensive care medicine today, but also details how physical and occupational therapists worked with Larissa as she grew older to help her overcome some of the physical challenges she faced. In the process, he offers a fascinating look at the human side of neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and learn.
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