CIMT therapy in progressive MS: Significant improvement in mobility through special training

"Train into the defect": In stroke treatment, the principle has been known for some time and has been used successfully. Here, e.g. in the case of paralysis of one arm, the healthy arm is consciously connected, so that the patient must inevitably use the restricted other arm and exercise with it. The name of this method is CIMT (constraint-induced movement therapy, translated as: restriction-induced movement therapy).

In a recent study, this approach was now also confirmed in the MS therapy. It could also be shown that the brain uses this method to develop new nerve connections and even rebuild itself in small but decisive parts.

In this study, 20 people with chronic progressive MS were divided into two groups. One received 35 hours of CIMT training over several weeks. The other group received the same number of hours of other treatments such as water aerobics, massage or yoga. The goal of all applications was to improve the everyday mobility of each limb.

MRI shows reconstruction of the corresponding brain region

After completion of the movement therapies, specific tests were performed to measure the motor function and recordings in magnetic resonance imaging. The CIMT group showed not only highly significant (ie very significant) effects in the mobility and thus also independence! Even in MRI, an enlargement of the corresponding brain region (in the neurocortex, ie the outer layer of the brain) was found, indicating an increased activity in the sense of a "new cabling".

Underlying study:

Randomized Controlled Trial of CI Therapy for Progressive MS: Increased Real-World Function and Neuroplasticity on MRI. Neurology April 8, 2014 vol. 82 no. 10 Supplement S23.007

author:Dr. med. Monika Steiner

Comment: Special exercise therapy promotes the arm and brain in progressive MS

This small study published in the prestigious US journal Neurology is of great importance. The CIMT method has long been used successfully in stroke patients. It is more puzzling that the balancing act with MS patients with similar neurological deficits has not been achieved before. Although only 20 test persons participated in this study, the results are clear and coincide with various other neuroscientific outcomes. Another positive note is that the focus of this study was on improving day-to-day coping with progressive MS. This is rare enough, but all the more valuable.

It is also worth mentioning that individual elements of CIMT therapy are already part of many physiotherapeutic treatments. Obviously, however, the combination in this specifically developed method is crucial. It is therefore advisable to insist on prescribing exactly this method if symptoms occur - even before the neurologist orders water aerobics and CO.

Dr. med. Monika Steiner

Do you have your own experiences or a different opinion? Then write a comment (please observe rules).
Comments (2)
Your request
2 Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 20:30
Dear Mrs. Goltz,
yes, the targeted promotion of the lower extremities in the context of CIMT therapy, there is and it seems, according to various studies and practical experience to have good success - of course, always dependent on the individual degree of impairment as well as the current problem.
For myself, this specification is known as "Lower Extremity CI Therapy" - LE-CI Therapy for short - and I think that your neurologist may be able to provide you with contact information to appropriate therapists or centers.
All the best for you and best regards,
Monika Steiner
CIMT therapy in progressive MS
1 Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 2:31 pm
Dear Dr. Steiner,
I am suffering from progressive MS. Mainly affected is the left leg - associated with muscle weakness to paralysis after exertion.
Is the CIMT therapy also available for the legs?
Thank you very much for your effort.
Best regards
Ina-Maria Goltz