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What Is Interhemispheric Inhibition?

Veronica T. Rowe, PhD, OTR/L, CBIST

November 23, 2015



What is interhemispheric inhibition?


The way I like to think about it, without getting too technical, is to think about the affected side of the brain as being bullied by the unaffected side. The unaffected side increases the activation because the affected side is damaged and has decreased activation. The unaffected side starts to take over some control of the affected side, and what that looks like clinically is the affected arm and hand are weaker and do not function as well. Meanwhile, the unaffected arm and hand get stronger contributing to that learned non-use phenomenon. If we do bilateral activities, are we clinically using both arms and hands equally? By doing that, are we stimulating the unaffected side, the bully of the brain? Or is it better to do a unilateral task so that you can try to increase activation of the affected side? There is a lot of discussion. I do not know the right answer to that right now. A big controversy is that most of our everyday tasks require both hands and both arms to use. Is it really feasible and realistic to just use one hand? Hope that explained it well enough.

veronica t rowe

Veronica T. Rowe, PhD, OTR/L, CBIST

Dr. Veronica Rowe has over 24 years of experience as an occupational therapist, she has worked in various areas of adult and geriatric care including acute care, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, long term care, burns, hands, and psychiatric care, all areas with an emphasis in neurological disorders.  Prior to her work in academia, she spent her career in St. Louis, Missouri at St. Anthony’s Medical Center; Baltimore, Maryland at Johns Hopkins Bayview; and Atlanta, Georgia at Emory University.  She served as a project coordinator for numerous research studies at Emory University involving rehabilitation therapies for the neurologically compromised upper extremity, including constraint induced movement therapy, mental imagery, and use of robotic devices.  She has collaborated on several research studies involving task-specific training and neurorehabilitation assessment measures with the University of Southern California.  She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, and has presented nationally, internationally, and virtually for a wide variety of audiences.  She is also a Certified Brain Injury Specialist Trainer. She has over 13 years of experience teaching in occupational therapy at the University of Central Arkansas and Georgia State University. She currently teaches and mentors research and neurological rehabilitation courses in occupational therapy.


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