Constraint-Induced Therapy can help people with multiple sclerosis.
A rehabilitation technique originally developed for stroke has now been shown to also be effective for improving function for people with multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease. According to findings from the University of Alabama at Birminghampublished in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy produced marked improvement in activities of daily living for patients with MS, and the improvement persisted for at least one year.
In a second paper published in the same journal, the authors report improved white matter structure within the brains of MS patients following CI Therapy, indicating the therapy produced measurable changes in the brain at the end of the treatment.
“These are momentous findings, which could be game-changing for patients with MS,” said Victor Mark, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the UAB School of Medicine and the primary investigator of the studies. “CI Therapy has been shown to be effective following motor deficit. Our findings indicate that it can also be an effective rehabilitation technique in neurodegenerative conditions such as MS.”
CI Therapy was developed at UAB by neuroscientist Edward Taub, Ph.D., originally as a rehabilitation technique for stroke. The therapy works on the theory of learned non-use, which asserts that following stroke or other motor deficit when a limb is impaired, patients learn to not use it for daily activities. They therefore switch to using the better limb for all daily activities. That learned non-use continues, even after the acute phase of injury has passed.
Taub postulated that, after effective therapy, the brain could rewire itself following injury, and that movement of an affected arm or leg could be improved. CI Therapy involves restraining the less-affected limb combined with intensive training of the more-affected limb on movements and activities of daily living. Additional techniques are incorporated in CI Therapy, including behavioral shaping, which involves approaching motor goals in small increments coupled with positive encouragement, and a set of behavioral procedures to facilitate transfer of the training benefits from the clinic to the real world, which is called the transfer package.
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