Learned non-use is not necessarily permanent and reversal is possible with intense training of the weaker arm, this a key component of CIMT and Dr Ed Taub’s extensive research. The program principally involves repetitive tasks oriented for several hours/day for 2-3 weeks under the guidance of a specialized trained therapist. While completing the tasks, the client’s stronger arm is restrained in a mitt to reduce the client’s temptation or learned behavior to use the stronger arm solely. Homework assignments are selected for the person to complete outside of clinic time while continuing to wear the restraining mitt to encourage more functional use within a real life setting. Improvements in both the amount of use of the weaker arm and the quality of movement of the weaker arm are possible with CIMT and such benefits have also been proven to last long term. People who have participated in the program report that CIMT has made a significant difference to their recovery and overall quality of life.
Constraint Induced Movement therapy or CIMT is an innovative treatment technique used for rehabilitation of the arm/hand following neurological damage. Often following a stroke or other neurological injury, people experience weakness affecting their arm affecting their ability to complete their activities of daily living (ADL), such as washing, dressing, eating and so forth. In the initial period following injury, and in our fast paced world, the person learns to compensate for their weaker side by using the stronger side and they quickly stop using their affected side because of weakness/clumsiness/lack of sensation. Even when the brain is in a state to start to heal, the patient is no longer attempting to use the affected arm and therefore the arm persists in this compromised state, a behavior termed “Learned Non-Use”.
INR provides CIMT therapy based on the 40 years of extensive
research by Dr Edward Taub. He discovered that by restraining the
stronger arm and intensely training the weaker arm, that he could
rewire the brain to improve the overall functional use of the more
affected arm. The clinic is essentially a boot camp for the survivor’s
affected arm. Dr Taub’s method is different from traditional therapy
in that the patient’s good arm is restrained for 90% of the patient’s
waking hours, as a highly concentrated program is made to retrain
the affected arm. In addition, traditional therapists may only get to
see the patient from 1-5 hours/week due to limitations of insurance
coverage, and may have only 10-20 visits/year. In CIMT, the therapist
is with the patient for 5 hours/day making the neuro-plastic changes
in the brain happen in a very concentrated amount of time, and
results are maintained for much longer, up to 1-2 years post clinic.
Of all the tools/techniques that therapist have to offer patients,
CIMT is the most effective evidence based tool that therapists can offer their patients to date. This innovative and unique treatment has been proven to improve arm and hand function as a result of neurological damage and is suitable for a variety of conditions such as: stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury.
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