The focus of Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) is to combine restraint of the unaffected or less-affected limb and intensive use of the affected limb. With CIMT, the occupational therapist constrains the patient’s unaffected or less-affected arm in a sling or custom splint. The patient then uses his or her affected arm repetitively and intensively.
The patient participates in the intensive occupational therapy program for 3-4 hours per day, 5 days per week for 3 weeks. While in the program, the patient continues to wear the sling or splint after each daily session up to 24 hours. This compels the patient to use the affected limb throughout the day to perform all functions. These repetitive movements of the affected limb lead to reorganization and reprogramming of the brain after a brain or spinal cord injury, allowing the growth of new neural pathways in the brain (neuroplasticity).
Upon discharge, the patient/caregiver is given a home program to continue progress and automatic use of the affected arm. Some patients may require a follow up intensive program of 2-3 weeks.