A high number of repetitions is the key to maximizing stroke recovery.
Rewire Your Brain with Repetitive Action
Depending on the location of your stroke, specific areas of the brain were damaged. This damage blocked your brain’s access to important information and caused your stroke deficits.
You can regain these deficits by rewiring your brain through the process of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity allows your brain to create new connections and dedicate more brain cells to that specific task.
As the number of dedicated brain cells grows, you’ll get better and better at performing that task. And the key to making neuroplasticity work is repetitive action.
When you perform something over and over, it strengthens those connections in your brain. If you practice balance exercises every day, you’ll develop some pretty good balance. If you meditate every day, you’ll get better at meditating (and you’ll grow your brain.)
Essentially, your brain becomes good at whatever you repeatedly do.
Perform Hundreds… or Thousands?
Repetition is essential for recovery, but how much is enough?
While most therapies for upper arm and hand rehabilitation call for 40-60 repetitions per session, you actually need hundreds for neuroplasticity to occur. In animal studies on neuroplasticity after stroke, it was shown that 400-600 repetitions per day of challenging functional tasks, like fine-motor gripping, can lead to changes in the brain.
That’s 100 times what standard therapy requires! Meaning you need to step up your game.
Whenever you’re doing your rehab exercises, aim for as many repetitions as possible. Don’t burn yourself out, but always try to fit as many repetitions into each session as you can.
We stepped up our game by making it possible to fit 2,000 fine motor repetitions into one 45-minute session with MusicGlove hand therapy.
High repetition makes it highly effective.
Avoid Rehab’s Arch Nemesis: Randomness
The biggest mistake to avoid is random repetitive practice.
If you practice hand therapy exercises once a week, you would see some results but nothing noteworthy. If you practiced repetitive hand therapy every other day for 5 weeks straight, you’d see massive, substantial improvement.
You’ll blow yourself away with how much progress you’re making because repetitive practice is the most effective way to do therapy.
Double Your Results with Specialized Therapy
To really reap the benefits of your rehabilitation process, you can try adding constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) to your regimen.
CIMT essentially forces use of your affected limb by restricting movement of your unaffected limb. Usually this simply means putting your ‘good’ arm behind your back while you practice your arm exercises.
One of the most important principles of CIMT is ‘massed practice,’ which – you guessed it – means lots of repetition!
Have you been using repetitive action in your stroke recovery?
How has it worked for you?
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