Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) is a treatment designed to improve upper limb function for people affected by stroke. This therapy involves restricting the non-affected hand so that the impaired or stroke-affected hand is more frequently used. The overall goal is to encourage people to use their weaker hands to become stronger and more functional when doing daily activities. To restrict the non-affected hand, usually, a sling, glove or mitten is worn for approximately 90% of waking hours or 13 hours per day.
CIMT can be challenging for some people as it requires intensive physical and cognitive demands. Modified CIMT (mCIMT) programs are less intensive and typically involve 1 hour of clinical therapy per week with a home-based program. Some people start with mCIMT to develop tolerance and capacity for CIMT.
During CIMT, clients use their stroke-affected hands while practicing a variety of activities or occupations. Depending on the setting, occupational therapists often try to participate clients in activities that are occupation-focused. For example, clients may practice typing or writing, folding laundry, setting the table, gardening, or grooming.
Home-based CIMT trains people to use the stroke-affected hand throughout the day while completing daily activities or occupations in their home. It effectively improves the performance of activities of daily living, such as getting dressed or drinking from a cup. Family and friends can be essential to help support people when doing CIMT.
It's interesting to note that a modified version of CIMT is available for children. For example, programs are available to improve hand or arm function for children diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.
Reference: "Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy – Upper Extremity." Strokengine, https://strokengine.ca/en/interventions/constraint-induced-movement-therapy-upper-extremity/. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.