Keeping the Beat to Get Back on Your Feet

With a special device strapped to his hand and wires linking him to a computer, Terry Bentley looked like he was suiting up to play one of those high-tech video games in a recent session at Kansas Rehab Hospital. Only, this 'game' could win him an impressive victory, getting him back on his feet from a stroke.

Bentley is using the Interactive Metronome in his recovery from a stroke he suffered in October. It left him barely able to walk.

Kansas Rehab Hospital occupational therapist Karen Farron says the Interactive Metronome is used in conjunction with traditional therapy to help stroke, Parkinson’s, brain injury and a host of other patients.

Patients hear a steady cow bell tone through headphones. They're instructed to anticipate the sound, and either clap their hands or tap their foot in unison with it. The computer measures their reaction time in milliseconds.

Farron says the thought is that the repetition is using the part of the brain you use to focus and attend. You have to be able to plan what you do, sequence your movements, and then actually execute it. She says the metronome forces you to look at each step.

Focusing on reacting takes concentration. That's why the interactive metronome has also been used by athletes to improve performance and in its original intent - helping kids overcome attention deficit disorder.

"It looks at your ability to time and sequence tasks, which is critical to everything you do," Farron said.

In two weeks, the metronome combined with traditional therapy has helped Terry graduate from using a walker to walking on his own. He says the sessions helped him with his balance and timing in walking. He's even starting to run a little.

Kansas Rehab is the only area hospital offering the therapy. It is covered by most insurance when referred by a doctor.

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631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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