What is Interactive Metronome?

Did you know that your brain has an “internal clock” that keeps time? And that it does so at various intervals: microseconds, milliseconds, seconds, minutes, and hours?  Timing in the brain (or what scientists call “temporal processing”) is responsible for detecting where a sound is coming from as sound hits one hear microseconds before the other, for waking up and putting to sleep our brain every 12 hours or so, and for focusing attention, reading comprehension, remembering information, processing speech, motor coordination, and several other human capabilities.

There exists a growing body of literature describing the neural timing deficits in ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, Reading Disorders, Auditory Processing Disorder, Parkinson’s, and other conditions.  Traumatic Brain Injury or Stroke may also disrupt timing in the brain. By addressing timing in the brain with Interactive Metronome (IM) alongside functional therapy interventions you are not only addressing areas of ability that impact achievement and independence but also the heart of the problem, that of deficient neural timing within and between regions of the brain that are underlying many of the problems you are working on in therapy.  This leads to more efficient treatment and better overall treatment outcomes.

IM's game-like auditory-visual platform engages the patient and provides constant feedback at the millisecond level to promote synchronized timing in the brain.  Exercises can be customized and involve a hierarchy of increasingly complex and precisely timed motor movements intertwined with gradually higher & faster cognitive processing, attention and decision-making. It is the only neuro-motor therapy tool that can be used successfully with all patients across the therapy spectrum, even those that require total hands-on assistance due to cognitive and/or physical impairments and those that are very young or elderly.

IM takes therapy to a new level.  Rather than simply performing repetitive movement or cognitive activities to achieve functional gains, therapists that incorporate IM into functional therapy activities report their patients are more engaged, more alert, complete far more repetitions of functional movement patterns and activities in a more precise and timely manner, and demonstrate faster progress toward cognitive, communicative, and physical therapy goals. Patients who are challenged and can see measurable improvements are more motivated to continue their therapy and achieve optimal success.

How it works

The IM program ‘trains the brain’ to plan, sequence and process information more effectively through repetition of interactive exercises. During the IM training a trainee wears stereo headphones and listens to special sounds that the IM computer software program generates to guide the training process. Motion sensing triggers, connected to the computer via cables, relay information about the trainees performance to the computer during training. One trigger is worn like glove on either hand. It senses exactly when the hand makes contact when tapped during training. The other trigger is placed on the floor, and senses exactly when the trainee taps either a toe or heel upon it.

Thirteen different hand and foot exercises are performed while auditory guide tones direct the individual to match the metronome beat. The IM program analyzes the accuracy of each tap as it happens and instantaneously creates a sound that the
trainee hears in the headphones. They learn to focus all their attention on the steady metronome beat sound in their headphones, without being interrupted by thoughts around them. IM trainees experience maintaining precise focus for longer and longer periods of time. The ability to maintain focus becomes automated. The mental control learned through repetitively successful planning and sequencing experiences is rarely forgotten. Upon completion of IM training (following approximately a total of 35, 000 repetitions) most trainees find it significantly easier to learn new complex cognitive and physical tasks.

The difference between the individual’s response and the computer generated beat is measured in milliseconds (ms.) and a score is provided. A low ms. score indicates improved timing and overall performance. The program consists of 12 or 15 one-hour sessions, which can be completed in 3 to 5 weeks. Additional sessions may be necessary and is decided on an individual basis.

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