Can I Regain Function by Practicing Constraint Induced Movement Therapy?

With Dr. Nick Housley 4th Oct, 21


Can I Regain Function by Practicing Constraint Induced Movement Therapy?

In Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, you perform the specific task, again and again, every day for a certain amount of time. This way, you can actually change the brain by forcing it to recruit neurons and try to figure out an alternate way to move because the damage has been caused by a stroke.

What is Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy?

Fundamentally this therapy has emerged as some of the best approaches over time to improve the performance and functions of individuals that have had a brain injury, specifically a stroke. Further, this therapy works in a way to help and encourage individuals to do high dose repetitive task practice.

For instance, it means that instead of just doing several repetitions, like 10 repetitions at a time, you do hundreds of repetitions and movements day in and day out for many many hours. Therefore this approach was deemed to be one of the most effective types of therapies that we have. And this requires a lot of rehab though, depending on the type of constraint therapy between four or six or eight hours a day. That is a lot of rehabs, and not everyone can manage that, and that is okay.

Further, it is interesting that these therapies have very good efficacy. But the problem is that they are not going to fit inside the US healthcare system because no third-party payers such as insurance companies would pay for this.

Therefore, the scientists back in the early 2000s tried to come up with an alternative to this that how can we use technology to help and recapitulate what a Constraint program was doing without the need necessary to have a therapist there to have six to eight hours of therapy.

What is the Motus Nova stroke rehab system?

Motus Nova stroke rehab system has two devices. One is called Motus Hand (for upper limb or hand), and the other is called Motus Foot (for lower limb or ankle).

Nonetheless, it is actually not a new technology, but these devices have been around for about twenty years at this point. But the base and inspiration for these devices actually go back even further from that. And they emerged from a type of therapy called Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) or Constraint Therapy.

Unlike other diseases, which require medication, these devices are the medication for stroke patients. So using these robotic devices, you do a lot of repetitive task practice to generate a lot of activity trying to do a task, and over time, you learn which series of neurons have to join together to perform a certain type of task. And then you have to do it over and over to stabilize that network of neurons, and then at some point, you will get that capability back.


In short, the scientists and engineers thought that maybe they could use robotics to make devices to help and recapitulate; what a CIMT program was doing but without the need for a therapist. That is when Motus hand and Motus foot were born, and the whole thing is designed to help you do those high doses of repetitive task practice. It is important because that is how our brain would learn how to use our muscles again and relearn to move.

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