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John Krakauer, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, has spent much of his career treating people with strokes. But he’s the first person to tell you that stroke rehab can be really lousy. Sometimes he likes to use the word medieval.

It’s not that stroke rehab involves bleeding a patient or prescribing the eye of a newt. The problem is that current treatments don’t take into account the latest research on what happens to the brain during and after a stroke. Rehab is often focused on just a few survival skills, like holding a spoon to eat. Many stroke victims only make partial recoveries and are never the same again.


Krakauer, the director of Johns Hopkins’s Center for the Study of Motor Learning and Brain Repair, wants to treat patients in a fundamentally different way: using video games to reteach the brain how to control the body.

I recently visited Krakauer and his colleagues at their lab in Baltimore to see what they were up to. Their research is the focus of the inaugural episode of “Science Happens,” a monthly video series in which I’ll be exploring labs and diving into the latest findings.

If you’d like to suggest a lab where existing research is going on for a future episode of Science Happens, please drop me a note.


This story originally published on Nov. 13, 2015.

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