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Video:What Is Constraint Induced Therapy for Stroke?

with Dr. Joel Stein

Constraint induced therapy can benefit stroke survivors because it is a method of retraining weakened part of the body. Watch this About.com video to see why constraint is effective and how it functions within overall stroke rehabilitation.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is Constraint Induced Therapy for Stroke?

Hello, Dr.  Joel Stein, from New York Presbyterian Hospital, with About.com

Using Restraint to Train Weakened Body Parts

In the case of a stroke, often times one side of the body has affected moderate or even severe motor-weakness resulting.

In constraint-induced therapy, the unaffected arm is restrained physically to promote the use of the weakened arm. Forced to mobilize the weakened side of his body, the patient starts producing movements and strengthening his muscles again. By doing-so and through repetition, new neural connections are formed within the brain.

Restraints may include slings, splints, gloves or mitts.

The Focus of Constraint-Induced Therapy

Purposeful movements used in performing functional tasks are promoted.

As originally developed, constraint-induced therapy requires the patient to exercise the affected arm 6 hours a day for two weeks, although some centers provide modified versions of this treatment that are less intense and spread out over a longer time period.

During the treatment period the restraining device is also worn for 90% of waking hours.

While the optimal timing of this treatment is not known, it appears somewhat effective even years after a stroke. Like many therapies, many physicians suspect there may be greater benefit by starting this treatment earlier post-stroke.

Constraint-Induced Therapy for Strokes

This therapy is the brain-child of Dr. Edward Taub, from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

The logic behind it was that patients learn to rely on their intact arm after stroke because the affected arm isn't able to meet their needs. This “habit” of not using the arm persists, even after the brain has recovered somewhat. By forcing use of the weak arm, Taub theorized that this “bad habit” of not using the weak arm can be overcome. There are other theories about how this treatment might work, but the bottom line is that it does seems to be beneficial.

This treatment is not suitable for everyone, and there may be other techniques, such as intensive exercise of the affected arm without restraining the normal arm that work just as well.

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