Friday, December 11th, 2015
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. When you have lost use and dexterity in your hands due to your stroke, making it difficult to grasp and release objects, daily tasks can seem like insurmountable obstacles. We will show you some helpful exercises to help you reclaim your dexterity with these hand exercises for stroke recovery.
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.
Sarah Lyon is an occupational therapist who manages otpotential.com, an occupational therapy blog. Through her work, Sarah has advocated for home-based exercises to help stroke patients recover the use and dexterity of their hands. With a few simple, easy-to-do exercises, Lyon has helped numerous patients regain the use of their hands.
These low-impact exercises can be performed at home, helping restore use and range of motion of the hands as part of your outpatient stroke recovery therapy. They work well in conjunction with Saebo products, tools designed to support the use of the hands after a stroke.
A stroke often affects the ability of the brain to communicate with other areas of the body. While some of the neurological damage to the brain after a stroke is irreversible, it’s possible to retrain some parts of the brain to take over the movements and activities once controlled in the damaged section.
If you are struggling to move your hands, start with this basic-level exercise, aimed at helping your brain re-learn how to control the most basic hand movement. If you are struggling to make a fist and release it, the SaeboGlove and SaeboFlex can help with positioning and re-opening as you build up control with this simple exercise.
Make a Fist
To begin retraining your brain and hands, make a fist by wrapping your thumb over your fingers. Then, slowly open and spread your fingers wide.
How wide you spread your fingers and how long you hold the stretch will depend on your goal. If you need to stretch the hand and increase range of motion, slowly make a fist and open it until you feel a stretch, but no pain. Repeat this slow and steady movement 10 times per session.
If you have decent range of motion, but need to improve strength, open and close your fist repeatedly and steadily for 30 seconds. Then give your body the chance to rest, and repeat the movement for an additional 30 seconds.
If you’ve mastered making and releasing a fist and feel that some strength is returning to your hand, then you are ready to move towards building the range of motion of the fingers themselves. This intermediate level exercise helps achieve that goal.
Five Finger Spread
For this exercise, place your hand in front of you with the fingers straight and held close to one another. Carefully and gently spread them apart. When you are done with the movement, your hand will look like you just counted the number five on your fingers, with all of the fingers spaced apart from one another. Then, bring the fingers back together, and repeat the action slowly 10 times.
This exercise is called abduction and adduction. It helps the hand re-learn how to move the fingers. It also builds strength and flexibility in the hand. As you perform this exercise, remember that the goal is to practice slow, steady and controlled movement. Do not try to rush through the exercise.
Once you can successfully make and open a fist and spread your fingers from side to side, you are ready to try Lyon’s third and final exercise: Tip to Tip. This advanced exercise focuses on adding dexterity to the strength and flexibility you have already mastered.
Tip to Tip
Start this exercise with your hands in an upright position. Spread your fingers comfortably, not the point that you feel a stretch, but just comfortably apart.
Once you are in position, carefully bring the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pointer finger. Your hand should look like you are making the “OK” sign. Release this, and open the hand wide. Now, repeat the movement, but touching the middle, ring and pink fingers respectively. Repeat a total of five times.
The ability to use your hands to grasp and release objects, type at a computer, or even hug someone you love is so important to a high quality of life. If your stroke has robbed you of this ability, take action to improve your quality of life by beginning an at-home exercise program. These finger and hand exercises for stroke recovery can help you regain the use and dexterity in your hands as you retrain your brain after the neurological damage that was caused from your stroke.
For extra support in advancing your recovery after a stroke, take a look at the many innovative products from Saebo to help you along.
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Whether you are a caregiver, occupational therapist or even a stroke survivor yourself, Saebo provides stroke survivors young or old access to transformative and life changing products. We pride ourselves on providing affordable, easily accessible, and cutting-edge solutions to people suffering from impaired mobility and function. We have several products to help with the stroke recovery and rehabilitation process. From the SaeboFlex, which allows clients to incorporate their hand functionally in therapy or at home, to the SaeboMAS, an unweighting device used to assist the arm during daily living tasks and exercise training, we are commitment to helping create innovative products for stroke recovery. Check out all of our product offerings or let us help you find which product is right for you.
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 provider 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.