A lead story on the local news broadcast caught my attention this evening. A therapy I had never heard of was featured- interactive metronome. The program uses a computer-based metronome along with sensors on the hands and feet to “train the brain.”
A quick Google search reveals a history- first developed in the 90’s, research, including professional articles in medical journals, sporadic news reporting like the piece I viewed, advertisement of services in a wide variety of clinics across the country, and anecdotal accounts from proponents and skeptics. The program can be used for a variety of cognitive disorders, including those on the autism spectrum, Parkinson’s disease, as well as strokes and concussions. It may also be used to improve physical movement and agility and is employed by sports teams and school athletic programs. In some studies it was shown to bring about academic improvement in reading and math fluency- more than a grade level. All of this in 12-15 one-hour sessions spanning just a few weeks or months. Many reports seemed positive, claiming measureable and lasting results. I wondered why, then, isn’t it more well-known and more widely employed? Are the studies flawed? Is it too expensive? Is it too simple? Does it fall into the too good to be true category?
I was thinking that having students follow up on news features like this would be authentic practice using internet research and opinion writing. I did not feel at ease with this genre of writing- an indication it is something I should work on, as we anticipate more emphasis on nonfiction.