Constraint Induced Movement Therapy & Acute Stroke

Features

When the unaffected arm is held against his chest, a stroke survivor is reminded to use the impaired arm. Generally, a therapist will teach him to perform gross motor tasks such as pushing a door open before fine motor activities such as writing.

Considerations

CIMT is based on a theory of learned non-use. Because it requires commitment and perseverance over time, it works best in stroke survivors who are highly motivated to improve.

Contraindications

In order to benefit from CIMT, a stroke survivor needs to follow directions. Someone who has severe memory loss or impaired judgment is typically not a good candidate for CIMT.

Impact

According to the American Stroke Association, CIMT positively impacts the quality of life for a stroke survivor. Successful graduates are more independent in their activities of daily living.

Warning

It's important to find a qualified physical or occupational therapist with specialized training in CIMT. A stroke typically affects one side of the body, and there's a natural tendency for the individual to use her other side instead of the impaired one. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) involves immobilizing the unaffected arm in a sling until she learns to use the impaired arm instead.