Top 5 Questions About Constraint Induced Movement Therapy

What is CIMT?

Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) is a technique used by CIMT trained physical therapists to promote development of new pathways between the brain and the impaired extremity. Dr. Edward Taub,  the founder of  Constraint Induced Therapy, refers to this process as “rewiring” the brain. The unimpaired hand is not allowed to perform the therapy tasks—it is constrained, either by voluntary non-use or by applying a CIMT approved “mitt,” which is an large mitten worn for 90% of the waking hours. Wearing the mitt on the unimpaired hand encourages the impaired hand to move, and over time the brain is induced to “rewire” itself. This complex process is directed and guided by a CIMT trained physical therapist.

Who is a good candidate for CIMT?

Candidates include children, adolescents, or adults who have arm and/or hand impairments due to a neurological condition such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain surgery, or multiple sclerosis. While treatment is most effective when started about six months after the onset of the impairment, research and experience has shown that useful results can be obtained even 20 years after onset (results vary). The program is intensive and results driven—clients who commit to the program achieve the best results.

What should I expect from my CIMT program?

Programs average 10 to 15 consecutive days, 4 to 6 hours per day. Your level of function is filmed with a video camera on the first and last day of the program–this records improvement and provides you with visual feedback. Our physical therapist designs a unique program based on your functional ability and goals and works with you to achieve those goals. This includes behavioral techniques known as shaping and task practice, where you repeat timed exercises of increasing complexity and the therapist provides encouragement and feedback to improve each task. Task practice simulates a daily activity or movement–as you improve, the therapist progresses you to performing actual daily activity or movement in your home. Positive reinforcement and one-on-one interaction is a key component in the success of this program.

Your schedule is individualized to allow for rest breaks during the intensive 4-6 hour day. In addition to the training session, you’ll be asked to complete practice activities in the evenings. At the completion of your training, you’ll be given an individualized program to follow at home. During the first year you’ll be asked to complete quarterly self-evaluations that assist us in tracking your progress and help us make additional recommendations for improving your home program and the use of your arm and hand in the home environment.

Each client has a different way of measuring success. With our guidance, you can set realistic goals and work toward them, continuing long after your therapy is completed. Your success will positively affect you and those around you–it’s not uncommon for caregivers to be able to return to work as you gain independence and confidence.

What type of results can I expect?

How CIT is Changing Lives: Reporter Dan Rather interviews Dr. Edward Taub and CIT patients in this VIDEO (this video starts with Alzheimer’s – CIT starts at 1:39 into the video so if you prefer you can fast forward to that point by moving your mouse along the bar at the bottom of the video box).

What are the steps to obtain CIMT physical therapy?

1. Contact us by email or phone–a CIMT therapist will ask specific questions about your movement to determine if you’re a good candidate for CIMT physical therapy. If the answer is yes, you’ll proceed to step 2.

2. For clients in our service area, the therapist can perform an in-person evaluation. For clients outside the service area, we’ll supply you with an intake form and ask you to send us a video of your arm and hand movement–we’ll tell you specific movements to film. Our therapist will write a physical therapy evaluation and plan of care for your doctor to sign.

3. Scheduling is done through our office–therapy is performed in your home or work environment. Our therapist travels to your area and stays until the therapy sessions are completed. Therapy programs can be hourly or 4-6 hours per day for 10 to 15 consecutive days.

4. To maintain the gains after therapy, you’re strongly encouraged to perform the CIMT home exercises and complete the self-evaluation forms so we can track your progress. We offer follow-up services if you need guidance or a refresher session.

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