Activity Based Therapy

More is Possible, 25.03.2024

What is Activity-Based Therapy (ABT)?

Activity-Based Therapy (ABT) encompasses therapeutic activities involving « repetitive neuromuscular activation below the level of spinal injury, typically achieved through intensive, task-specific movement practice. » [1]

Activity-Based Therapy (ABT) is a pioneering approach to neurorestorative rehabilitation firmly rooted in the principles of neuroplasticity. At its core, ABT seeks to awaken the potential of the neuromuscular system below the level of a spinal cord injury through rigorous, task-specific, and repetitive exercises.

ABT Benefits:

  • Improved Function and Independence: ABT endeavors to reignite dormant functions, leading to enhanced self-sufficiency.
  • Strengthened Bones and Muscles: By reintroducing gravitational loading, ABT bolsters bone and muscle health.
  • Reduction of Complications: ABT plays a crucial role in mitigating secondary complications associated with paralysis.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: Ultimately, ABT aims to elevate the overall quality of life for individuals affected by spinal cord injuries.
  • Assistance with Bladder and Bowel Health: ABT supports bladder and bowel health, furthering comprehensive rehabilitation.
  • Enhancement of Brain-Muscle Connection: Through high repetition of movement and various forms of feedback—visual, verbal, and tactile—ABT seeks to refine the connection between the brain and muscles.

ABT Principles:

  • Weight-bearing: A cornerstone of ABT, weight-bearing exercises simulate natural gravitational loading and stimulate the neuromuscular system.
  • Task-specificity: ABT tailors exercises to mimic real-world tasks, aiming to restore functional abilities.
  • High Repetition of Movement: ABT capitalizes on the power of repetition to drive neural reorganization and motor recovery.
  • Visual, Verbal & Tactile Feedback: ABT leverages multiple forms of feedback to fine-tune the rehabilitation process, engaging the sensory and motor systems in tandem. 


Rambling with ReYu

Welcome to Rambling with ReYu, where we explore the realm of neurorecovery as it pertains to lifestyle, sensory processing and activity based therapy. Join Bean and Nancy as we dive deeper into the many topics surrounding life with a neurological condition. Here we will tackle your questions through interviews with leading clinicians, experts and those with lived experience.

Spinal Moves

A podcast conversation about Activity-Based Therapy (ABT), a novel intervention used to improve recovery for people with spinal cord injury. Spinal Moves is brought to you by the ABT Community of Practice.

Citation Source Information

[1] Musselman Kristin E. et al, Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER), 2018, 

“With ABT neuroplasticity is driven by repetitive neuromuscular activation below the level of spinal injury, typically achieved through intensive, task-specific movement practice.”