Metronome therapy helping retrain young brains

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Therapists are using the beat of a metronome to help young people diagnosed with developmental issues.

Colten Collins started weekly therapy sessions at St. Francis at the beginning of this year. To see him now, you'd never know that a swinging, balancing and pulling exercise he was doing with ease Tuesday was particularly challenging.

"When I was first on the swing, I would hold on for dear life," said Collins.

But he's made significant progress, his occupational therapist says, in part, because of interactive metronome therapy.

"The metronome is all about brain timing, so we are retraining the brain to have more accurate timing that carries over to your coordination, your sequencing, your memory and it affects all your daily activities," said Amy McClellan, St. Francis Occupational Therapist.

There are 14 levels of increasing difficulty. The goal is to match the rhythm, either by clapping, tapping your toe, or even going by mimicking bi-lateral movements.

"The metronome is very hard, actually. When you first start, it's really difficult to get the hang of it, because of, like, the patterns you have to do, like left foot,'s difficult," Collins said.

All movements have a rhythm. Colten used to put both feet on a step to use the stairs. But no more.

"I really thought this was going to be a long process and it's been what, five months, and the boy will run stairs. One step...bam, doesn't even look at them," said Colten's mother, Monica Lundsford.

His writing has gotten better and he can tie his shoes, as well.

"What makes me the most happy is that I'm learning how to do stuff that I used to be not very good at the beginning. I'm just happy. I'm learning new things," Collins said.

McClellan recommends the therapy for patients ages 5-15 with a variety of diagnoses like ADHA, where focus is an issue, stuttering, autism, Asperger's and even stroke patients.