What is the Interactive Metronome Approach?

If you’ve ever heard someone refer to their “internal clock” you understand that timing in the human body is a critical aspect of day to day functioning. The timing and sequencing of daily activities is largely dependent on the internal rhythm of our bodies. This is called circadian rhythm. All living organisms have an internal clock that helps regulate physiological function and life routines. If this rhythm is unsteady or absent, activity coordination can become that much harder. If you have ever experienced jet-lag, this is a temporary and minor imbalance of your circadian rhythm. Imagine feeling “jet-lagged” or imbalanced all day, every day for your life? This can be a stressful and unhealthy situation brought on by many types of disorders or developmental needs.

What is the Interactive Metronome?

Interactive Metronome (IM) is an approach designed to integrate internal rhythm and neurological pattern training into functional therapy. By focusing therapeutic activities around the timing patterns of the brain, these activities will become more effective and will address the “root” of the problem. IM is used to improve attention, coordination, language processing, reading and math fluency, and controls of impulses or aggression.

How does IM work?

IM is a computer-based program that uses headphones and sensors that track how the user reacts to the computer-generated rhythmic beat. By learning to react to rhythms more accurately, users effectively improve their ability to plan and sequence motor movements. These abilities are critical in order to carry out day-to-day functions and participate in activities, such as play. These functions and activities require not only a particular order of movements, but also an appropriately-timed sequence of these movements. Interactive Metronome targets these all-important sequencing and timing skills which can improve the overall functioning of the patients.

Who uses the IM approach?

Any trained therapist, such as an occupational therapist, can implement IM with their clients. In occupational therapy, this approach can be beneficial as patients learn to coordinate their fine and gross motor movements in order to complete activities. IM targets both physical and cognitive skills such as attention and memory, and has been used as a part of treatment plans for patients with autism, ADHD, deficits as a result of a traumatic brain injury, among others.

To learn more about the Interactive Metronome approach and how it may help your child, seek the counsel of a licensed occupational therapist who is specially trained in IM.