Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stroke patients and metronome training

I just ran across an article (actually based on an email tip via the mental timing grapevine) for a 2002 article by Thaut et al. in Neuropsychologia that supports the use of synchronized metronome tapping (SMT) methods to improve motor coordination in patients with strokes.

In the article, the authors goal was to "investigate the effect of rhythm on the control of paretic arm movements in stroke patients." The basis for this intervention was prior research that had suggested that:
  • "a rhythmic model of rehabilitative motor training, has shown significant improvements in gait function of stroke patients. In this model, rhythm functions as a sensory cue to induce temporal stability and enhance the temporal organization of motor control in the nervous system by translating the temporal structure of movement patterns into temporally isomorphic auditory rhythmic patterns to entrain the movement in question. Similar models have been successfully used in high-performance motor skill learning in sports and music."
In a sample of 21 hemispheric stroke patients, the researchers found that:
  • "the observed changes in timing and trajectory control strongly suggest that the structured time information in auditory rhythm added significant kinematic stability to the patient’s paretic arm reaching motions. These changes were not present during the non-rhythmic condition...Our data suggest, therefore, that auditory rhythm may offer an essential component of enhanced sensorimotor control to make hemiparetic arm training more effective."
The results of this study provide indirect support for the use of the Interactive Metronome SMT-based program in stroke patients with motor control impairment. (click here for other IM-related prior posts on this blog). Of course, all of this makes sense in the context of the extant research literature on temporal processing and the IQ Brain Clock (click here to enter the wonderful world of the IQ Brain Clock EWOK)

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