How to Use the Brunnstrom Stages of Stroke Recovery to Become Your Own Expert

How to Use the Brunnstrom Stages of Stroke Recovery to Become Your Own Expert

Using the Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery is best way to estimate your stroke recovery time.

It will also allow you to foresee what obstacles you’ll face (and overcome!) on the road to recovery.

You’ll see spasticity referenced quite frequently, so we’ll begin with a brief definition of that, and then move onto the Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery.

Get Rid of Stiff, Tight Muscles After Stroke

Spasticity involves stiff, tight muscles after stroke.

Specifically, spasticity is any form of impaired muscle movement, muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, and limited coordination.

Spasticity is a common stroke side effect that’s caused by miscommunication between your brain and muscles. The best treatment for spasticity is to rewire the brain with rehab exercise.

While you can also use treatments like Botox to relieve spasticity, it’s only a temporary fix. The only way to beat spasticity for good is with stroke recovery exercises that helps rewire the brain.

By understanding this concept, you already know much more than the average person about stroke recovery!

Now let’s move on to the Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery so that you’re even more of an expert.

Stage 1: Flaccidity

No movement in the affected muscles

Flaccidity is a condition characterized by muscles weakness or paralysis. In the beginning of your motor recovery, you will start off with a certain degree of flaccidity in your affected muscles caused by the stroke or other neurological injury. At this point, active movement of the affected muscles isn’t possible.

Stage 2: Spasticity Is Present

Passive movement and spasticity occur

Then, a small amount of movement seeps in. During the second stage of motor recovery after stroke, a small amount of movement is recovered, usually as passive movement or response from stimuli (like TENS therapy). No voluntary movement is present.

Stage 3: Spasticity Increases

Active movement and spasticity occur

During the next stage of stroke recovery, movement continues to increase (while spasticity comes to a peak) and difficult, voluntary movements start to emerge. At this point, you’ve been diligently performing your rehab exercises and your brain is effectively relearning how to communicate with your muscles.

Stage 4: Spasticity Decreases

Significant motor control emerges

We’re halfway through the stages and things are starting to look promising. At stage 4, muscle control increases and movement starts to become easier. Some abnormal movement still occurs, but spasticity has significantly decreased.

Stage 5: Spasticity Wanes

Complex movement develops

At this stage, spasticity continues to decrease and muscle control increases. You can start to make complex movements on your own.

Stage 6: Coordination Reappears

Spasticity is no longer present

Then, spasticity disappears completely and coordination rapidly improves. Complex coordinated moves are almost fully restored and a full recovery is within sight.

Stage 7: Normal Function Returns

Full control of muscle movement is restored

This is when you do your happy dance. You’ve been consistently performing your rehab exercises and now complex movement patterns are fully restored. You can move again with normal timing, coordination, strength, and endurance.

How to Get to Stage 7

Now that you know about the Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery, you probably want to know how to get to stage 7.

Luckily, the answer is simple: massed practice of therapeutic movements. Which is just a fancy way of saying do lots of reps of stroke recovery exercises.

Repetition helps activate neuroplasticity and rewire the brain. The more you exercise your spastic muscles, the more “loose” they will become.

That’s because the brain gets better at connecting with your muscles, and your muscles will get the message to relaaax.

The more you exercise, the faster you will progress through the stages of recovery!

Did this help you understand where you are in your recovery? Do you have a better idea of how to recover faster? 

Leave us a comment below and we’ll answer all your questions!