Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version

Functional Compensation

  • Lindsey DucaAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Email author 
  • , Jon RoseAffiliated with Spinal Cord Injury Clinic, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System


Functional adaptation


Functional compensation refers to the process by which individuals who have suffered damage to the central nervous system (CNS) resulting in permanent injury compensate for deficits in various domains of functioning through the adaptive implementation of behavioral, cognitive, or physical strategies designed to enhance residual skills or to introduce alternative skills. Functional compensation uses residual structures to achieve recovery, emphasizing a behavioral rather than a neural model (Heilman and Valenstein 2003). Instead of, or in complement to, rerouting neuronal connections, an individual with CNS damage independently develops, or is assisted in learning, new solutions to problems using existing structures. Functional gains can be long term in nature, with adaptation to the environment occurring in an ongoing capacity after initial injury, at times influenced by advances in assistive technology, even while structural gains may ha ...

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