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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.

Reclaim Your Dexterity With 25 Hand Exercises For Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Friday, July 13th, 2018


Reclaim Your Dexterity With 25 Hand Exercises For Stroke Recovery Exercises for Stroke Recovery Survivors & Patients at Home

A stroke can take a seemingly healthy and vibrant individual and change their life in an instant. Learning how to do basic daily tasks, such as self-feeding or getting dressed each day, can quickly feel like an overwhelming physical hurdle. Despite having full active movement in your affected hand, you may have decreased strength and dexterity in your hand due to your stroke. This may be making it difficult to grasp and release objects, making daily tasks seem like insurmountable obstacles. We will show you some helpful hand exercises for stroke recovery to help you reclaim your strength and dexterity.

Unfortunately, sometimes rehab does not bring back full control and use of your hands, making these daily tasks a tremendous challenge. While you begin your recovery it’s crucial that you incorporate hand exercises for stroke recovery into your daily life to bring back dexterity and use of your fingers.

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Reclaim Mobility With Leg Exercises For Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Monday, June 11th, 2018



Reclaim Mobility With Leg Exercises For Stroke Recovery - Stroke Recovery At Home Leg Exercises

 

Stroke recovery can be a long process. Managing the ongoing need to rebuild bodily control and strength after neurological damage is no easy task. Each year nearly 800,000 people in the United States alone will suffer from a stroke, leaving them with ongoing physical and neurological damage.

If you have suffered from a stroke, loss of balance and control can make standing and walking difficult. While outpatient stroke recovery therapy is vital to improving this problem, you can also continue improving after returning home with the help of these leg exercises for stroke recovery.

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The Brunnstrom Stages of Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Saturday, June 9th, 2018


The Brunnstrom Stages of Stroke Recovery

 

Life after a stroke can be challenging. Many patients wonder if they will ever fully recover their muscle coordination, or how long or difficult the process of recovery may be. Fortunately, the field of occupational and physical therapy has come a long way in developing approaches that help patients regain controlled muscle movements after a stroke.
There are seven recognized stages of stroke recovery through which most patients progress. Also known as the Brunnstrom Approach, the seven stages framework views spastic and involuntary muscle movement as part of the process and uses them to aid in rehabilitation.  

 

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Benefits of Rehabilitation Gloves and Hand Braces For Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Thursday, June 7th, 2018


Stroke is among the top three causes of death in the United States, but nothing comes close to stroke as the leading cause of long-term disability. After patients survive a stroke, their risk of having another stroke increases, along with their likelihood of suffering a serious disability as a result. However, medical and technological advances have made it easier to help patients cope and recover. Occupational therapy is an effective way to restore mobility and reduce future risks for stroke survivors.

Therapy for stroke survivors often involves “re-training” or reprogramming the brain after neurological damage. As we learn more about the relationship between the brain, muscles, and connective tissue, one stimulating innovation is emerging as a top tool for recovery. Today, many patients are relying on a stroke rehabilitation gloves & dynamic splints to reverse damage, restore mobility, and reduce pain after a stroke.

But how, exactly, does wearing these orthoses treat symptoms of stroke survivors? Truth is, there are many benefits for patients who incorporate a glove or a dynamic splint into their recovery process.

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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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Important Facts About Stage 2 of Stroke Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018


Important Facts About Stage 2 of Stroke Recovery, Stages of Stroke Recovery Brunnstrom, Stroke Recovery Stages, Brunnstrom Stages of Stroke Recovery, Stages of Stroke Recovery

As stroke survivors recover, most gradually regain strength and movement in the muscles and may eventually enjoy full restoration of function. They may regain reflexes first, then voluntary movements, and may even enjoy full restoration of function eventually. Since the 1970’s, the Brunnstrom Approach has helped us divide this post-stroke progress into a series of seven distinct stages. These stages of stroke recovery, which are marked by synergies of different limbs, begin with flaccid muscles and no movement (voluntary or otherwise). However, stage 2 marks an important milestone: the return of movement.

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Henry Hoffman Q&A Video Series: Is My Patient Appropriate for the SaeboFlex or SaeboGlove?

Henry Hoffman
Tuesday, December 12th, 2017


SaeboFlex vs. SaeboGlove: Which is right for you?

In his latest Q&A Video, Saebo Co-Founder Henry Hoffman addresses the differences between two hand rehabilitation devices.

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Hand Braces and Contracture: What Occupational Therapists Need to Know

Henry Hoffman
Friday, December 8th, 2017


Suffering a stroke is debilitating and scary, and survivors are often affected much longer than the stroke itself actually lasts. Many patients experience spasticity and contracture during their stroke recovery period. These ailments affect the muscles of the distressed wrist and hand within days of stroke recovery, which can lead to a painful and permanently clenched hand.

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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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