Reflex Therapeutics Website

IMF Therapy Founder's Letter

A Letter from Ulrich Schmidt, founder of IMF Therapy:

IMF Therapy® and peripheral nerve lesion

The treatment of plexus paresis can be lengthy. Patients are easily demotivated because of the lack of treatment results and tend to neglect the affected limb and eventually do not use or move it anymore (Taub, E., 1993). This should obviously not be the aim of rehabilitation. Such de-activation of movement corresponds with plastic changes to the brain, namely a de-activation of brain areas in the sensorial and motor cortex.

The aim of IMF Therapy® (Intention Controlled Myofeedback) is to counteract this kind of development through motivating the patient to become actively involved in the therapeutic process.

Aim of the method

The aim of this treatment method is to relearn intentional motor functions by means of influencing the plasticity directly at cortical level and stimulating the ability to regenerate non-functioning peripheral muscle tissue. The prerequisite is a successful reconstruction of the nerves, which enables the recruitment of motor units in the paretic muscle.

Method

This is much more than just a treatment method using a technical device; its aim is to activate a psychophysical process highly dependent on the motivation and willingness of the patient. Using the IMF Device establishes a causal connection between:

Mental training,
EMG-derivation and
Myofeedback

By means of mental training the patient re-activates previously learnt movements simply by imagining the movements. The visualisation of previous knowledge from the patient’s long-term memory manifests itself in EMG-activity in the motor nerve endings of the paretic muscle. With the help of the surface-EMG of the IMF Device these potentials are derived from the paralysed limb, amplified and then returned to the paretic muscle as muscle stimulation impulses.

In IMF Therapy® the patient activates all motor and sensorial parameter at cortical, spinal and peripheral level each time he or she imagines a movement previously learnt and carried out.

The patient is encouraged to use the method at home and practice approximately four times a day for about 30 minutes at a time.

Results
  1. It has been proven that the imagination of movement activates previously inactive areas of the brain.
  2. The visualisation of movement triggers proprioception and kinaesthetic movement patterns.
  3. Post-traumatic or post-operative immobilisation often causes hypotrophy of type-I-fibres. These have to be stimulated directly. Imagining movement recruits these motor nerves very well.
  4. The reconstruction of nerves has been successful when after a time of non-functionality the muscle tissue (type-I) receives once again continuous impulses of 8,4 Hz frequency from the motor neurones. IMF Therapy® aims to stimulate the process of re-innervation by imitating the physiological activity of the motor neurones and stimulating the nerves for at least 2 hours per day. (SPRING, Hans et al. 1990)
  5. Type-II-fibres respond to an impulse frequency from 20 – 60 Hz and to short square pulses (200-300 µsec). (SPRING, Hans et al. 1990)
  6. The ability of non-functioning muscle tissue to regenerate depends on the number of surviving satellite cells. Long-term non-functioning tends to result in a total loss of satellite cells. IMF Therapy® counter-acts this development by stimulating satellite cells which are entering the non-functioning area.

Good results have been achieved with IMF Therapy in a number of cases of patients with chronic cortical and spinal paralysis.

We presume that similar results can be achieved for plexus paralysis and other peripheral lesions.

Author:
Ulrich Schmidt
Founder of IMF Therapy®