We have been using IM (Interactive Metronome) training at United Psychological Services for several years. We are continually astounded by the long term results and short term successes of those individuals who have completed the program using our specifications (which included changes in amount of sessions, scores necessary to complete the program, frequency and duration of treatment).
Interactive metronome (IM) is a brain-based, cognitive training program using neurosensory and neuromotor exercises to enhance brain performance and neural recovery. IM has a website that further describes their program. People are getting different results depending upon the skill of the trainer as well as the degree that the program has been individualized. We have found that by individualizing the program to meet the specific needs of each person has resulted in an almost 100 percent success rate. When people complete the program, they rarely come back. The program is individualized based upon first completing neuropsychological testing. By gathering information about how the person thinks and feels, we can target the IM program for the best results.
People come in anxious, fearful they cannot be successful, never having completed something before and simply negative in their outlook. We manage to overcome those issues and see people through to completion. Recently a young man of ten years came in with a negative attitude. His life had been filled with failures, achieving but just not “good enough”. He was the youngest of three children; his siblings were highly successful, older and professional. His father is a doctor. Halfway through he was ready to quit, citing, “I can’t do this”. However we worked with him, he managed to see the program through and today is doing quite well at school.
While many people have begun to use this program for treatment since we started offering it, we have found a specific formula for success which to our knowledge remains unequaled by other individuals or groups providing the same treatment. We have worked hard through the years using brain behavior principles and knowledge of the brain to make changes in both our instruction as well as the progress of the program. These interventions continually change depending upon the needs of the individual, thus we firmly maintain that IM cannot be relied upon as a stereotyped, “canned” program.
In our opinion, the “art form” of IM requires knowledge of the brain, brain behavior principles and understanding of the unique functioning of each individual. As a result every person is evaluated on neuropsychological test measures prior to beginning the IM program to help us design the right program to meet their individual needs. We then use the same testing as measurement of the gain made upon completion of the IM program.
The IM program consists of 13 different physical activities using hands, feet, and a combination of hands and feet with the goal being that of precision timing that is exactly measured. Using hand or feet sensors, the individual uses guide sounds provided via headphones to develop precision accuracy in their movement measured by milliseconds. Tasks require the person to think ahead and to anticipate their next action as they shift back and forth between hands and feet. The goal is to be as precise as possible which results in bursts and an increase in the score obtained for the exercise.
The positive aspect of the IM program is that it fosters internal competition and guaranteed success, every person always meets the goal of graduation (which does not occur until specific requirements are attained). Some individuals may take 20 to 25 sessions to complete the program. Usually the goal is met by 25 sessions. Individual differences and additional neurological issues determine the number of sessions needed to complete the program.
Case in point. We had one young boy who was in the first grade and he struggled in the program. As we neared the end, his anxiety heightened and his fear began to negatively affect his performance. We did a number of interventions from changing aspects of the training to specific psychological interventions. This young boy became so determined to finish that we continued past the point of even 25 sessions. Concerns that he was growing weary were dispelled by his determination. Then the day came that he finished, completing the program with “flying colors”. He learned a valuable lesson about success and determination to succeed in addition to the positive benefits to his cognitive functioning.
Pre and post-testing over time has consistently documented improved performance in areas of: reading and writing skills, attention, word attack, decoding skills and significantly increased spontaneous reading. IM graduates report that it is easier to read thus spawning a renewed reading interest. Pre and post-testing using the attention battery has been rather consistent in revealing significant improvement on measures of distractibility, information processing, tasks requiring sustained attention, and slow cognitive speed. Children taking medication performed similar to when they were not on medication. Children who never used medication revealed enough gain in their performance to not start medication. Bright children improved sufficiently to perform as expected within above to well above average limits while average children brought below average scores up to average or high average limits following completion of the program.
Adults report renewed energy, increased ability to focus during lectures and to take notes, improved time management, short term memory, reading and driving skills. Recently a young man that I had not seen for several years indicated that the IM training was one of “the best things he could have done for himself”. Prior to the training he was highly anxious, undirected and unmotivated. Today he is on an upwardly mobile career path working at a job position he would never have thought himself capable of, at the same large, highly respected company as his parents.
Success encountered in the program, the upbeat attitude of the staff at United Psychological Services and the increased motivation to try to read, all contributes to lifelong changes. While the IM program helps to make reading easier from a brain behavior perspective, it is still up to the individual to start reading consistently and to use their newfound brain powers. Psychological symptoms of trauma, depression and anxiety tend to diminish sufficiently to become outwardly obvious. There was a decrease of anxiety and depression symptoms on self-report measures following completion of IM and verbal report of an improved sense of well-being.
Overall, this has been and continues to be, a very powerful program, making significant changes in the lives of children, adolescents, adults, and the aged. Whether it is breaking the pattern of the unmotivated, depressed and anxious person and/or changing brain function to either not take medication at all or to choose medication times (as opposed to total reliance upon a stimulant to function) the IM program has significantly changed the course of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). It is the norm as opposed to an anomaly that children who hated school upon completing the IM program begin to study and become good students. The cyclical pattern moves into an upward slope as positive feedback fuels motivation to learn.
Again this program is what we use as our non-medical treatment for the genetic attention disorder. When there are acquired attention issues or an additional brain disorder we use a different training program in addition to the IM training or instead of this training.
You may want to check out the article on Non-Medical Treatment of any Brain Injury or Dementia included in our website.