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Think You Know How Many Reps It Takes to Achieve Neuroplasticity?

Henry Hoffman
Wednesday, May 11th, 2022


The damage inflicted by a stroke is unique to every patient, and so is the recovery process. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The brain consists of 100 billion neurons and 200 trillion synapses. It’s nearly impossible to grasp the complexity and power of this amazing organ!

During a stroke, 32,000 neurons die every second, totaling around 1.2 billion for the entire event. That’s a lot, but consider the total neurons in the brain, it’s around one percent. That means 99 percent of the brain is still intact!

A variety of exercises and movements can be used to provide cues to the brain. Thanks to pioneers like Dr. Merzenich (https://lnkd.in/dR9zGCmx) , who conducted landmark studies in the 1980’s that confirmed the adult brain is not hard-wired, practitioners have an opportunity to “rewire the brain”.

 

How Can the Brain be Rewired?

Those cues direct the brain on how to adapt, creating new neural pathways that can overcome any brain damage and alleviate or compensate for physical and mental deficits.

This means they can work around the one percent that’s been impacted through neuroplasticity, which can be defined as the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections after injuries, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury (National Library of Medicine).

This “neuroplasticity” was considered impossible a few decades ago.

So, why do most traditional stroke therapies fail?

They abandon a stroke survivor before this rewiring (neuroplasticity) takes place. Traditional tests which determine if therapy is making an impact do not detect the subtle movements that indicate neuroplasticity is taking place.

Fortunately, Merzenich, and others, have offered the clinical community an amazing contribution.

As therapists, we must ask ourselves “What did I do during my skilled 45 minutes session to drive neuroplasticity for my patient today?” “Did I do enough?”

 

How Many Reps is Enough?

The average number of repetitions performed in a standard therapy session is 30. Yes, 30! We need at least 300-400 reps per session to begin rewiring the brain to provide meaningful outcomes.

Consider this: There are many studies that show the number of repetitions it takes to “master” a movement. A golf swing, throwing a baseball, ice skating, playing the piano, etc. These repetitions trigger the same rewiring of the brain and require thousands of repetitions.

Stroke survivors know that the journey to full recovery can be a long one. It is important to reiterate to them that repetition is key because their brain needs to constantly be reminded how to move a part of the body. With every reminder, connections are reinforced and the ability to successfully complete the action becomes more certain.

Each repetition leaves a footprint, a pathway for the next rep to build on and move further into neuroplasticity – the stage where the brain “remembers” the paths, or new wiring, allowing someone to get better, and keep getting better!

With all the exciting new therapy solutions available at our fingertips, now is the time to challenge ourselves to toss out conventional concepts, usually not backed by research (gasp!) and focus on new protocols, supported by science, that produce continuous and lasting results.

If you are a stroke survivor or a caregiver, ask your therapist about Dr. Merzenich’s research and read “Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life”.

 

Conclusion

The longer the brain sits dormant before beginning rehabilitation or the longer a patient waits between rehabilitation sessions, the longer it will take for the brain to establish the necessary connections to drive body parts. The sooner after a stroke event a survivor begins strengthening their brain through neuroplastic exercises (such as performing repetitions or mirror therapy), the quicker they are able to begin reaping the benefits

Rewiring the brain takes effort and commitment, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it does work, providing hope for stroke survivors who’ve been left behind. One rep at a time.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

Best Stroke Hand Recovery Exercises Using Pens

Henry Hoffman
Tuesday, March 29th, 2022


Strokes can be one of the leading causes of serious long-term disability. A stroke can lead to a reduction in mobility in more than half of stroke survivors from the age of 65 and older. Loss in hand function, strength, and dexterity can result from a stroke. These conditions and impairments are determined by the location and severity of the stroke. Today, there are many ways to regain hand function after a stroke or neurological injury.

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Benefits of Neurological Rehab Devices

Henry Hoffman
Thursday, July 12th, 2018


Stroke survivors will undoubtedly face a variety of hardships after a stroke event — physical impairments, emotional difficulties, mental disabilities — not to mention a heightened risk of a second attack. The road of rehabilitation can be a long one, but huge advances in both medical technology and therapeutic techniques have made it possible for survivors to enjoy incredible recoveries.

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Vision Problems After Stroke: Understanding & Overcoming Them

Henry Hoffman
Wednesday, June 13th, 2018


blog

 

People often think of a stroke as having a profound effect on a victim’s motor functions—and it does. However, did you know that as many as two-thirds of stroke victims experience vision impairments as a result of a stroke? Not all visual impairments happen immediately after the stroke, but some victims will notice changes to their vision right away.

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Reclaim Your Reach With Shoulder Exercises For Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Monday, January 15th, 2018



Shoulder exercises for Stroke Recovery

 

Recovering your arm and shoulder movement after a stroke can be challenging. If you can’t easily grasp and release objects, move your arms forward, or use your arms to support your weight or you’re just starting your recovery with a Saebo solution, it’s important to incorporate helpful shoulder exercises for stroke recovery into your daily routine at home.

And that’s exactly what Occupational Therapist Hoang Tran recommends. Hoang focuses on shoulder and arm mobility at her outpatient rehabilitation center, Hands-on Therapy. She opened the Florida center in 2014 after extensive clinical experience, including more than a decade at Miami Beach’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. As a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) she specializes in pathological conditions affecting the upper extremities. Throughout her years of working with stroke survivors and other people with upper body trauma, she has learned several simple and effective techniques that you can apply in your own home to speed up your recovery.

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Build Your Own At-Home Exercise Program with Work Your M.O.T.O.R.

Henry Hoffman
Tuesday, September 19th, 2017


Saebo is excited to partner with Work Your M.O.T.O.R. in the development of a new home exercise mobile app for patients. Work your M.O.T.O.R (Motivating Occupational Therapists Optimizing Rehab) is an online exercise program for anyone who has had a stroke or brain injury. The exercises are light, fun and creative to help continue your recovery at home. The Work Your M.O.T.O.R staff has over 25 years combined experience working as occupational therapists in both inpatient and outpatient settings specializing in stroke rehabilitation. The exercise team has the added benefit of real life stroke survivors who understand what you are going through, every step of the way.  Work Your M.O.T.O.R series include: stretching, upper and lower body strengthening, standing balance, core exercises and fine motor coordination. Each workout is 20 minutes or less and can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

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Exercises to Help Fix Curled Toes After Stroke

Henry Hoffman
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017


Exercises to Help Fix Curled Toe After Stroke

Strokes take a huge toll on the human body. They can cause anything from paralysis and speech loss to blurry vision, fatigue, and loss of mobility. Sadly, there is almost no part of the body that is completely safe from the effects of a stroke.

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35 Fun Rehab Activities for Stroke Patients

Henry Hoffman
Thursday, July 20th, 2017


35 Fun Rehab Activities for Stroke Patients, Rehab for Stroke, Stroke Rehabilitation, Rehab After a Stroke, Rehabilitation for Stroke Patients, Outpatient Stroke Rehabilitation, Rehab After Stroke, Rehabilitation After Stroke

 

After suffering a stroke, many survivors find themselves with some loss of physical function. While much of this is due to brain damage from the stroke itself, there are additional preventable problems like physical deconditioning and fatigue that can lead to a survivor losing function. How can this be prevented? Physical activity.

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5 Best Sitting Balance Exercises for Stroke Patients (With Videos)

Henry Hoffman
Tuesday, July 18th, 2017


Balance Exercises After Stroke, 5 Best Sitting Balance Exercises After Stroke
Learning how to sit up is one of the first major milestones in a person’s life. Unfortunately, after suffering a stroke, many survivors find themselves unable to sit up or stand safely. This is because balance is critical to maintaining these positions, and a stroke can affect a person’s ability to balance in several ways.

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Why You Should Exercise After Stroke

Henry Hoffman
Thursday, June 22nd, 2017


Exercise After Stroke, Why You Should Exercise After Stroke

 

Everyone knows that exercise is good for their health, and for stroke survivors it is no different.  After suffering a stroke, survivors may face numerous barriers to becoming physically active such as disability, fatigue, or depression. While they may have to start slowly and find ways to work around physical barriers, physical exercise is important to both help survivors recover and help them prevent a second stroke.

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