Saturday, September 26, 2015

Musing: Arm-Hand Stroke Exercises by Madfit

Dean Reinke
Deans’ Stroke Musing
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Madfit has posted these on several stroke forums. They are so good they need to be distributed again. You won't get something like this from your therapist so since this is a non-medical source it is not worth listening to.

When you read these you can see that she covers the therapy needed for those muscles that still partially work, and goes to passive movement to neuroplastically get functions that were in the dead area moving again. She also worked on sensations which has been proven to help movement.

Here are the exercises:
  1. Take your arm, and with the other hand massage the affected arm, trying to loosen the muscles. If you keep doing this, eventually it will loosen up. In rehab this method is called Miofacial Release. The therapist did for me and I continued to do it at home. It really worked on me. Ask at Rehab if they offer it.
  2. Stengthen your whole arm including your fingers, by taking a plastic grocery bag and put a few groceries, adding more and more weight when you think you can. You'll be surprised, by carrying the bag with 2 or 3 fingers, you'll see how strong both the fingers and arm become and the muscles will loosen up.
  3. With the affected hand, pull the fingers on the opposite hand, one at a time, and keep stretching them out. Stretch each joint on the finger, the 3 joints on every finger. I constantly did this. My hand used to be like a claw. You should see it now. I am even touch typing this note using every finger on both hands. It takes a strong will, perseverance and a lot of work.
  4. Take the good hand and pull on the thumb stetching it, farther and farther from the index finger. After a while, you'll notice you can separate the thumb from the index finger until it is normal like your good hand.
  5. Then when you have accomplished this, just try opening and closing the fingers, over and over until they become strong.
  6. Use a tight springed clothes pin, and keep pressing it open, this will also give strength to the fingers.
  7. Put some small type shaped pasta or marbles in a bowl and try picking one at a time up. This gives coordination.
  8. Did they give you puddy in therapy? That was also good to build strength.
  9. It's very important to do exercises all the time. Just relaxing in bed, sitting in a chair or anyplace. I even used to do this when someone took me by car shopping, after a while it will be instinctive. I can personally attest to these exercises helping.
  10. Use the squeeze ball method to gain strength, while watching TV, in a car, etc.
Now I touch-type, that is using both hands and all fingers, I do everything with the affected hand. The only thing I cannot do well is write. The precise coordination which is needed in the wrist I still don't have for writing. It takes alot of hard work, a strong will, and dedication every day, as well as prayers. But it does work.

I had a pretty bad stroke in October 2002, when I was 55 years old with a good job. I was totally paralyzed on my right side (leg and arm). I had about 3 months in-patient therapy, and 2 months outpatient therapy. Eventually went home in a wheelchair.

I was told I probably would walk eventually with a cane, but several doctors told me I would never have function of my right arm and hand. I told them I don't accept their prognosis. I might add that I am a right-handed person, so that made it even worse. I had to learn to write and do things with my left hand.

Hope this helps you! Good luck.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I had only one OT who ever suggested that I use my unaffected hand to open and close my affected hand constantly. There was only one, and he was a sub I had only one session. But he stressed how important it was to do so strongly that I had to comply. And you're the one who first stressed to me that recovery requires a 24/7 commitment.