Constraint Induced Movement Therapy

An innovative, research supported intervention that assists individuals in increasing the functional use of their hemiplegic arm.

Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) is an innovative, research supported intervention that assists individuals in increasing the functional use of their hemiplegic arm. CIMT involves constraining the non-affected arm which forces the participant to use the hemiplegic arm while participating in selective activities. Research demonstrates that this therapy will produce increased use of the hemiplegic arm for some individuals.

The decreased ability to use an upper extremity is a common deficit in individuals who have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Research has proven that such a disability is in part due to the damage that has occurred in the brain as a result of a person’s stroke or TBI. Modern research, however, is addressing an additional component, “learned non-use”.

Learned non-use of the hemiplegic arm is thought to occur as a result of the deficits in the individuals arm. For instance, a right handed individual who has sustained a stroke may become more dependent upon others for their activities of daily living or adapts to their right sided weakness by using their left hand. In either predicament, the amount of movement performed with the right hand has decreased (learned non-use). It is believed that over time such a decrease in movement leads the brain to extinguish movements that are no longer being used and develop movements that are used frequently. “If you don’t use it you loose it”.

To counteract such learned non-use, Edward Taub, the founder of Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, insists that by placing a mitt (constraint) on the unaffected arm along with skilled therapeutic intervention thereby forcing the individual to use the affected arm during functional activities. Taub’s theory on CIMT supports that our behaviors affect our brain as much as our brain affects our behaviors.

Clients considered for the Constraint Induced Therapy Program include those with a diagnosis of Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury. Participants must be at least six months post stroke/TBI, have decreased ability to use their arm, have caregiver support and be medically and behaviorally stable. Additionally, participants must be able to attend the program three times a week for 5 hours a day. Clients will need to wear a restraining device on their non-affected limb during therapy sessions as well as at home.

Magee’s CIMT program is run at various times throughout the year. As not all stroke and brain injury survivors are appropriate for this form of therapy we ask that you call and speak with one of our CIMT team members to discuss your eligibility. This program is not covered by insurance. For further information, make a referral or to discuss program eligibility please contact the Magee Riverfront Outpatient Center at 218-3900.