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Learn about a treatment option for adult upper limb spasticity. Learn More


Currently, there are more than 6 million stroke survivors in the United States. Unfortunately, approximately 80 percent of stroke survivors experience some type of motor deficit as a result of their stroke. These deficits often include diminished strength in the hands, which can make the basic tasks many of us may take for granted a challenge.  This can result in everyday functions such as cutting food or getting dressed becoming exhausting and burdensome.

On the positive side, the range of stroke treatment options is now more sophisticated than ever. Stroke survivors may be able to reverse the effects of stroke with a rehabilitation program focused on hand strengthening exercises proven to overcome motor deficits. Having access to the right treatment strategies can have a major impact on a survivor’s recovery. It is important to utilize the right tools during the recovery process to assist with hand impairments both short-term and long-term.

Gaining a Functional Hand after a Stroke

Within minutes of a stroke, cells in the affected areas of the brain begin to die, leading to a host of short-term and long-term deficits for stroke survivors. These conditions and impairments will be determined by the location and severity of the stroke. A stroke in the left side of the brain will affect the right side of the body, and a stroke on the right side of the brain will affect the left side of the body. Paralysis (hemiplegia) or partial paralysis (hemiparesis) of one side of the body is a very common aftereffect. While it is possible for patients to recover from hemiparesis in the days and weeks following a stroke,  many patients may struggle to regain their complete strength and dexterity. Fortunately, many hand strengthening exercises, designed to increase hand strength and improve fine-motor skills can be used following a stroke and can help to restore functional limitations.

Hand Strengthening Exercises

There are many exercises proven to increase dexterity and strength. With time and persistence, patients can use this strategy to overcome the physical limitations caused by a stroke. A patient’s individual treatment plan will be determined by the extent of the weakness in the affected hand. For example, hand strengthening exercises might initially focus on gross movements, such as grasping onto a cup and progress to more refined movements, such as buttoning a shirt.

Hand therapy balls are a versatile, low-cost exercise tool often used during stroke rehabilitation. These tools are available in an array of shapes, sizes, and resistance levels for different exercises.

As strength builds, different exercise balls with greater resistance may be used. Therapy putty hand exercises are also widely used to increase hand strength. Similar to hand therapy balls, therapy putty is also affordable and available in a variety of resistance levels. Therapy putty is more versatile than a therapy ball and can be used more for fine motor strengthening exercises. Here are some other examples of using household items for hand strengthening and coordination:

  • Watering plants with a spray bottle
  • Cutting paper with a pair of scissors
  • Squeezing water out of a sponge
  • Buttoning a shirt
  • Tying shoes
  • Opening cans
  • Peeling an orange
  • Grating cheese
  • Open a pop-top of a drink container
  • Screw and unscrew nuts and bolts

It is also possible to strengthen the hand, wrist, and fingers using regular items around the home.  Patients can lift a partially or completely filled water bottle for weight-resistance, or write with a pen for fine motor skill practice. Even a handful of pocket change can become a useful tool in a patient’s in-home rehabilitation regimen. To improve dexterity, practice picking the coins up from a flat surface one at a time and transferring them to a bowl.


Devices to Increase Function

Currently, stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While some patients will regain full muscle function in the weeks and months following a stroke, many will struggle with these impairments long-term. Assistive devices are extremely useful for supporting rehabilitation therapies and helping patients cope with long-term deficits. The SaeboGlove is an assistive device appropriate for stroke survivors with little or minimal spasticity. The proprietary tension system restores diminished function by extending the fingers and thumb after grasping objects, while safely securing the wrist in a position that is both functional and comfortable for wearers. This tension system supports full range of motion for all finger joints without hindrance for optimal performance. Sections of silicone along the fingertips improve traction to minimize slips and allow patients to grasp items with confidence.

Unlike bulkier devices on the market, the low-profile, lightweight SaeboGlove has been intuitively designed with both function and comfort in mind. The innovative construction utilizes expandable Lycra material for comfort and open-palm construction increases breathability. The tension system is also easily customized to match its assistance to each patient’s needs. Within the glove, each individual tensioner can be easily removed, and multiple tensioner sizers are included to better suit a range of finger lengths.

A multifaceted treatment program can help patients overcome the limitations of hand weakness.  Every stroke survivor has different needs and here at Saebo, we are committed to accommodating those needs. If you or a loved one has hand weakness take the first step and start living a more functional life today! Here at Saebo, we are committed to stroke support and recovery for all survivors and their families. Saebo offers a wide range of products that combine cutting-edge technology with evidence-based rehabilitation techniques. Our offerings and network of Saebo-trained therapists can help you or a loved one to obtain all the necessary tools to maximize stroke recovery.

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.

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