#107 - Interactive Metronome with April Christopherson, OTR/L

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC July 01, 2020

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Interactive Metronome with April Christopherson, OTR/L

Have you heard of Interactive Metronome? It is an evidence-based training and assessment tool that has been proven to improve cognition, attention, focus, memory, speech/language, executive functioning, comprehension, and motor and sensory skills. WHOA! Ready to learn more? 

Get ready for a fun and informative interview this week!

April Christopherson is an Occupational Therapist who has over 25 years of experience working with a variety of populations - home health, private clinics, in-patient rehabs, and more! She currently owns Exploration Kids Therapy, located in Gunnison, CO. She also consults privately from her home in Colorado Springs, CO. Additionally, she is a member of the Adjunct Faculty for Interactive Metronome and Advanced Brain Technologies. 

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April Christopherson is a driven occupational therapist and Interactive Metronome Consultant who graduated from St. Ambrose University in Iowa. Her devotion to aiding underserved rural locations brought her back home to Colorado, where she now owns two OT clinics located in Gunnison and Delta. She feels incredibly inspired by the opportunity to give back to her hometown community that she grew up loving!

What Is the Interactive Metronome Program?

Interactive Metronome is a scientifically-proven auditory motor timing program that assists with sensory, cognitive and rehabilitative progress. The patient performs an activity of their choice - such as tapping, clapping or counting aloud - while listening to the metronome. Progress can then be monitored by comparing performance against the metronome feedback provided.

This remarkable program can be employed with children and adults alike, assisting those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to learn organizational skills and executive functioning. It also helps improve fine motor skills for individuals in recovery from a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Its power lies in its capacity to rapidly process information.

Benefits of the Interactive Metronome

The unique benefit of the interactive metronome program is that it provides clinicians with a tool to measure and assess a person’s motor control, coordination, reaction time and rhythm. By providing real-time feedback on the patient’s performance in contrast to an “ideal model” (the metronome), clinicians can quickly evaluate how a person is progressing both physically and cognitively.

When beginning the program, one of the most visible signs of improvement is an increase in language and speech abilities. With some patients, however, there may be a few accompanying setbacks - for instance bed-wetting reoccurrence, alterations to sleep patterns or difficulty with self regulation.

Generally, this time of brain reorganization takes two weeks. As caregivers become anxious during the process, I remind them that regression is actually a promising sign. When working with kids in therapy it may be hard for us to exercise patience as they improve; however, sometimes we have to wait and trust our work in order to see their true potential unfold completely.

How to Individualize the Interactive Metronome Program

The brain has pathways that are overlapping for sound and movement. When using this program, participants must answer to an auditory clue given out by the interactive metronome system. It then maps how quickly or slowly they responded: either before the beat (impulsive) or after it (reactive).

The tempo of our rhythm session depends on these responses. For instance, if a child is arriving for an appointment after school and needs to relax, we'll usually choose a slower beat at 40 BPM; this helps them regulate their breathing and reach a tranquil state. Accelerating the metronome up to 60 or 70 beats a minute is beneficial for those who require further processing time. This strategy helps stimulate their nervous system, resulting in quicker movement responses.

With this data, clinicians can create individualized goals and pinpoint any areas that need improvement. Further, this kind of feedback builds confidence in the patient as they become more accurate with the metronome; it then enables them to be better prepared for activities outside of the clinic setting such as work, school or home.

How the Interactive Metronome Program Supports Child Development

Our purpose when utilizing the interactive metronome program is to incorporate rhythm and timing into our lives. There has been an explosion of research in this area, most notably Nina Kraus's work at Northwestern University in Chicago titled "How Rhythmic Skills Relate and Develop in School-Age Children". This research showcases the advantages of including rhythm in educational settings for young children!

During the initial stages of life, establishing a steady rhythm is essential to ensure healthy growth and nourishment. This natural beat helps babies nurse, swallow and breathe properly; if it is disrupted or not followed correctly, it can cause choking, vomiting or colic-like symptoms. Therefore, remaining in time with this cycle should be prioritized for newborns' wellbeing .

For school-aged children, there is evidence that using an interactive metronome program can enhance their capability to coordinate and process information more accurately. This in turn leads to better performance in academic tasks such as reading, writing or math; it also improves physical coordination which is needed for activities like sports and dance.

Finally, adults dealing with cognitive and motor disorders benefit from the brain-body connection that this program facilitates. As we age, our rhythmical abilities may degrade as a result of aging or medical conditions. By focusing on the “ideal model” (the metronome), clinicians can quickly evaluate how a person is progressing both physically and cognitively.

In conclusion, the interactive metronome is a powerful tool that helps both children and adults improve their cognitive functioning and physical coordination. It also provides an effective way for therapists to evaluate progress in their patients. Through this program, we can identify delays or deficits more precisely; as a result, our interventions become more targeted and successful.

Learn More About the Interactive Metronome

If you're seeking more information about the Interactive Metronome and its many programs, be sure to visit their website at InteractiveMetronome.com. Furthermore, The IM-Home program is available for parents who are searching for in-home services that can be monitored by an occupational therapist. It's a perfect solution if you need those specific types of services without having to leave your home!

Are you looking for a local program? Utilize the locator board on the InteractiveMetronome.com website to quickly and easily find certified therapists or providers. It also provides helpful tips, tools, and information about interactive metronome so that you can make an informed choice when selecting your provider.

Get in Touch with April

April is passionate about sharing her knowledge and graciously providing assistance whenever needed. You can contact her through her website - ExplorationTherapy.com, or email her directly at April@ExplorationTherapy.com. Also, connect with her on social media, on Instagram and Facebook at @ExplorationKids.

 

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS

While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.


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