Can you clap your way to better health? Therapists at Hampton Physical Therapy in Paducah say it’s possible.
The occupational and physical therapy center has recently started using the Interactive Metronome, which works with the natural timing mechanism in the brain to improve coordination and concentration.
The Interactive Metronome is a small box connected to a computer and a set of headphones. The machine emits a beat to which patients coordinate simple movements, like clapping, tapping a button or walking.
Therapists said they use the metronome in conjunction with other treatments for a variety of cognitive and physical ailments.
“There’s not any type of patient it doesn’t work with. They’ve had significant results with hyperactivity and autistic children, but it covers a whole gamut of uses,” said Cheri Hampton, physical therapist at Hampton Physical Therapy.
The metronome is used with patients suffering problems in shoulder, knee, and hip joints, Hampton said.
“What you’re doing is focusing on the beat and getting increased range and strength. You do it for a minute or two minutes, and because you’re using the natural timing mechanism, you’re not really thinking about doing a specific exercise,” she said.
When combined with standard treatments, a 15-minute session with the interactive metronome is also said to improve focus for patients with autism spectrum disorders.
“They get very upset when they can’t take in all the stimulation from the environment,” Hampton said. “They do the Interactive Metronome (session) and suddenly, they can focus and handle the classroom environment. Autistic kids actually ask for it.”
Although the therapy is still in its early phases, the therapists at Hampton Physical Therapy say they have received a positive response from the patients they’ve treated.
“Most of the kids that I’ve done it with so far really do like it,” occupational therapist Amanda Strum said. “One of them refers to it as a video game, so that helps.”
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.