Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Last modified on September 2nd, 2022
Caregiver AdviceEvidence-Based TreatmentOccupational Therapist InfoPhysical Therapist InfoStroke Rehabilitation ExercisesTask-Oriented Training
After a stroke is over, its survivor is not in the clear. A stroke leads to neurological damage that affects the motor system, making limbs weak and limiting movements. It can also affect sensory input to the brain, which can impair speech, vision, touch, and more.
Fortunately, stroke survivors can regain movement and prevent further complications through both passive and active rehabilitation exercises. Each type of exercise serves different and important purposes for stroke patients.
Passive exercises are called as such because the muscles are moved by an outside force, either a machine, another body part, or another person. Also known as range-of-motion, or ROM exercises, passive exercises help prevent stiffness in your joints, work to stretch muscles, and can help increase and maintain range-of-motion.
After a stroke, 17 to 38 percent of survivors suffer from spasticity, which inhibits signals from the brain to the muscles. Stroke survivors who currently suffer from spasticity or show signs of paresis can benefit from passive exercises. Those who do not yet show symptoms can still benefit from range-of-motion exercises to prevent the development of symptoms.
A few passive exercises that you can do daily on your own include:
Unlike passive exercises, active exercises require muscle exertion and body movement. Active exercises can be range-of-motion exercises or general exercises to move the body and help strengthen the neural signals that communicate with your body to perform movements. This process is known as cortical plasticity.
Stroke survivors who suffer from impaired joint and muscle movement can regain much of their movement through active exercises. Active exercises will help retrain the brain to communicate with the body through cortical plasticity. Those who suffer a stroke should begin using active exercises as soon as possible post stroke to regain movement.
Some important active exercises to include in your rehabilitation routine after a stroke are:
For more active exercise ideas, check out our guide to exercising after surviving a stroke.
Active and passive exercises are important for any stroke survivor to prevent further complications involving the sensory and motor systems and to regain movement lost from impaired neural signals. Passive exercises are used to prevent stiffness and regain range of motion in muscles, whereas active exercises help strengthen the communication between the brain and body for increased movement. Immediate and continuous rehabilitation exercises are key in a survivor’s progress after stroke.
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