The More Rats the Better!

The thought of one rat is enough to send a shiver up the spine of most people.  Multiple rats?  A change of underpants would be in order.

Luckily, in the name of neuroscience, Mark Rosenzweig, David Krech, Edward Bennett and Marian C. Diamond at the University of California, Berkeley, were not nearly as scared as I.  Their 1960 and 1962 studies can be summarized like this:

Rats that lived in a cage with a more stimulating environment (more toys and tunnels to crawl through) developed larger brains and had more brain activity than rats in less stimulating environments.  The kicker? There was even more brain mass and brain connectivity improvements when there were MORE rats in the cage (you can read better summaries of these studies in his book: Enriched and Impoverished Environments: Effects on Brain and Behavior, 1987).

Radioactive Ooze created Splinter, but maybe he just needed to be more social?

Radioactive Ooze created Splinter, but maybe he just needed to be more social?

So being social improves neuroplasticity.  We’ve already discussed here about Aim2Walk’s open concept clinic setup and how social isolation is linked to poor outcomes, depression and stress.  But having fewer walls in your rehab setting isn’t the only way to be social in your recovery.

There are numerous community programs in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and likely in a city near you as well.  These programs offer education, support and kinship in a group setting.

Here is a list of just some of the programs available in the GTA (and most of these groups have locations across Canada):

Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST)
BIST has a Brain Injury Support Group that “allows individuals living the effects of brain injury to meet others to share experiences, receive emotional support, as well as valuable information and resources.” To learn more about this group, call 416-830-1485 or email
BIST also offers a family and caregiver support group. Click here to learn more.

March of Dimes Canada
The March of Dimes offers an extensive network of peer support groups. Their group for stroke survivors and caregivers allows for people to:

  • Talk to a fellow survivor or be connected to a support group
  • Learn more about stroke, stroke symptoms and stroke recovery
  • Find stroke recovery resources in your area
  • Find support for fellow caregivers and family members
    For a complete list of groups across the country, please call the Stroke Recovery Canada Warmline® at 1-888-540-6666.

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCI Ontario)
Previously known as the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario, SCI Ontario has been helping Canadians living with a spinal cord injury since 1945.  They host events throughout the year, throughout the province.  The events range from info sessions on the latest in Bowel and Bladder management to Resume/Cover Letter writing to Ski/Snowboard events.

The Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy (OFCP)
Another group dedicated to offering local events for those affected by Cerebral Palsy. They have an events calendar that is updated regularly.

We could go on forever. There is opportunity to connect with others, not just with your diagnosis, but alos with similar interests, is rampant.  Not only are these social events often fun outings, but the literature has shown that being social is better for your recovery.

If you know of any groups or events that would be of interest to our readers, please let us know by commenting on this post.

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