Description: Learn how the Interactive Metronome program works, its benefits and why it’s considered a crucial element in cognitive therapy.
Interactive Metronome (IM) is a training program that assists children and adults cope with coordination, memory and attention difficulties. IM is backed by solid scientific research and can be used by people of all age groups who suffer from a number of different conditions which hinder their physical abilities and cognitive functions.
How IM Works
To understand how it works, consider that your brain has a “clock” inside that keeps track of time in intervals of hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds and microseconds. Brain timing, or what researchers call temporal processing, is the reason why you can determine where sound is coming from when it strikes your ears microseconds prior to striking the other ear.
The timing in your brain is also the reason for waking up, putting us to sleep, motor coordination, processing speech, remembering facts and figures, reading and other essential human functions. Conditions like Parkinson’s, Auditory Processing Disorder, reading disorders, autism, dyslexia and ADHD result in neural timing problems, as will a stroke or brain injury.
This is the problem that IM addresses. Combined with functional therapy interventions, you will be focusing not just on the aspects of your brain that affect independence and achievements, but also deficient neural timing in the regions of your brain which is responsible for many of the problems you’re trying to fix during therapy. With IM you can expect better overall results.
With IM you get an auditory-visual platform that keeps you engaged and generates constant feedback at the deepest level, stimulating the synchronized timing in your brain. All the exercises may be customized and consists of complex and accurately timed motor movements combined with cognitive processing, decision making and attention. IM is also a tool that can be utilized with individuals from different therapy spectrums, including those that need assistance because of physical or cognitive impairments.
IM is different from other therapies because unlike other programs that have you do repetitive movements or activities, IM therapists allow their patients to become more engaged, aware and perform more functional reps and patterns, and they do so in a more precise manner. This ultimately leads to quicker progress in terms of achieving their physical, communicative and cognitive goals.
The Scientific Explanation
IM works by improving the efficiency and resolution of the individual’s temporal processing and brain clock. When this takes place, your brain connectivity improves and enhances synchronization, and this is done by increasing the integrity of the white matter tract communication system. What this means is your brain will be able to communicate more efficiently.
Research has indicated that IM training stimulates the parietal-frontal brain network, the component of your brain that is linked to executive functions, controlled attention, working memory and general intellectual functioning. Based on the scientific studies, IM improves function of neurocognitive mechanisms in the brain.
To be more specific, IM provides millisecond feedback on the temporal processing resolution of your brain’s internal clock. When this happens, the neural efficiency is enhanced and leads to better, more improved processing. What IM does is produce greater synchronization and efficiency between the major structures in your brain that make up the functional networks involved in motor and cognitive demands.
IM also improves brain network communication, particularly the P-FIT. The bottom line is with IM you can expect improvements in cognitive functions. Of all the benefits, probably the most important is enhancing of the attentional control system (ACS) as it helps you retain information and prevents your mind from wandering.
Pediatric IM Benefits
The individualized approach of IM makes it ideal for a pediatric client. Unlike other therapies, IM is more entertaining, and the interface is easier to understand so your pediatric patient is going to be looking at their goals following each exercise and help them attain higher goals.
IM also lets you enhance the challenge involved in each task while they concentrate on the IM interface. The bottom line is that with IM, treatments become easier because it provides the appropriate setting, group dynamics, developmental level and more.
Adult IM Benefits
IM makes it easy to individualize IM applications from 18 to the geriatric level. Those who participate in this will understand the skills required to adapt to ever changing clinical presentations with individualized treatment methods that will motivate and engage the patient.
Reducing Fall Risks
One of the reasons why patients tend to fall is their failure to manage postural control while performing various cognitive tasks. What they need to learn is how to steer clear of obstacles, walk symmetrically and remain upright. As researchers will tell you, patients fall for many reasons, so what IM does is provide recommendations to prevent this.
In addition, IM also provides you with an interdisciplinary approach for greater fall prevention. The exercises and therapeutic activities in the platform will address various issues involving the cognitive/communicative, vestibular, oculomotor, proprioceptive and musculoskeletal systems. At the same time, the activities put emphasis on rhythm and timing.
In effect what IM does is target the patient as a whole, so you aim for the timing deficit and ensuring falls are prevented. Research indicates that rhythm and timing integration in therapies provide benefits when it comes to remediating hemiplegia and gait. At the same time, IM enhances rhythm and timing with unique real-time feedback so timing is down to the millisecond.
This is maintained all through the program, and that leads to greater gait symmetry, reciprocal movement and better timing. For changes to be permanent after constant repetition, several components are required such as emphasis on cognitive effort, progressing from predictable and stable to more varied activities and exercises that will force the individual to adapt.
The IM program also provides repetitive practice apart from the ones used in standard therapeutic exercise. Finally, IM provides extrinsic and intrinsic feedback, something other therapy modalities cannot offer you, making it an efficient program.
What makes Interactive Metronome more attractive from the rest is the fact that you will be able to see improvements quickly and naturally, so this is good news for patients as this will encourage them to keep moving forward.