CMT Exercise Video Series from the CMTA

CMT Exercise Video Series from the CMTA
The Charcot Marie Tooth Association (CMTA), has been producing a series of short instructional videos demonstrating physical therapy exercises for individuals with the neuromuscular disease Charcot Marie Tooth. Currently four of these videos are available at no cost at the CMTA website, with an additional three videos planned.

The goal of the video series is to focus on functional improvement in strength and health for individuals with CMT. The exercises are demonstrated by physical therapist from the U.K., Rebecca Lee. Ms. Lee, has CMT Type 1 A.

The videos are short, between 4 and 5 ½ minutes long. Each video begins with safety instructions. The videos also begin with the suggestion to do these exercises in conjunction with regular aerobic exercise.

After the introductory material, the exercises are then discussed and briefly demonstrated, with instructions for making exercises easier or more difficult given. Modifications are also demonstrated. Some of these modification allow a beginner to safely engage in the exercise, while others will make the exercise more advanced as the individual gains strength. For some exercises, there are options for using an elastic band or light weights to add resistance as the individual gains strength.

The videos do not demonstrate a full exercise routine with each exercise repeated on both sides and with enough repetition to build a full routine. Instead, the exercises are demonstrated, with instructions regarding safety. The demonstrated exercise can then be used by the individual to build an exercise routine that is appropriate to them, or to add to an already existing routine.

The first part of the video series is titled Ankle Balance and Proprioception. These non-impact exercises are performed from a standing position, and include standing with a narrow base of support, standing with one foot in front of the other, standing in a tandem stance, standing on a single leg, and heel-to-toe walking.

When I tried the exercises in the first part, I found that I could perform each easily when I had my eyes open and focused straight ahead. The exercises became surprisingly more challenging when I turned my head or closed my eyes. I was prompted to include more balance work in my regular routine.

The second part of the series is titled Lower Leg Strengthening. These exercise are done from a sitting position, and could be performed by a person while sitting in a wheelchair. The exercises included ankle, knee and leg strengthening exercises. Options for adding light resistance using an exercise band or light weights were provided.

Personally, I found that the ankle exercises to be the most useful. While I regularly exercise my legs, I appreciated the prompt to exercise my ankles.

The third part, Improving Mobility Through Leg Strengthening Exercise, included more advanced exercises to strengthen the legs. The non-impact exercises included in-place marching, hamstring curls, leg abductions and extensions, mini-squats, and heel raises. Again, options to add light resistance as one builds strength were given.

The exercises in this section were familiar to me as part of a recent round of physical therapy I went through after hip surgery. I was able to do the exercises, with one exception. Due to contractures in my feet and toes, I am unable to do heel raises safely. As Ms. Lee reminds viewers at the beginning of each of the videos, it is important to modify the exercises according to one’s individual’s needs. This may require consultation with a physician and/or physical therapist.

The fourth in the series is called Building Core Strength to Improve Balance and Stability. Most of these exercises are floor exercises, requiring the ability to get up and down from the floor. Using a mat will make these exercises more comfortable. The instructor reviewed floor exercises, including the bridge, plank, and four point kneel with arm and leg lift, again with variations. A standing exercise, lunges, was also demonstrated.

Although I am familiar with the bridge, I learned a couple of new variations that I can add to my exercise routine. Unfortunately, I have difficulty with completing exercises such as the full plank and lunges because of the contractures in my toes and feet. A modification for the plank that I am able to perform was shown in this video.

Although I exercise regularly and have had physical therapy in the past, I learned a few new exercises and variations of exercise to add to my routine. I also was prompted through my experience in the first video to add more balance exercises to my regular exercise routine. I am looking forward to viewing the next three videos in this series. Overall, I found these videos to be useful, and suggest that individuals with CMT take the time to view them and incorporate some of the exercises into their routines.

Resource:, (2014). The CMT Exercise Video Series. Retrieved on 5/15/15 from .

FTC Disclosure: The video series reviewed in this article was viewed at no cost at the CMTA website, and is available at no cost to the general public.

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