If you’re doing rehab exercises without seeing results, then you may not have your bases covered. But don’t worry – we’ll cover them all right now.
In this article, you will find the 5 most basic – and most important – factors that can make a good recovery great.
If you can get all 5 of these factors in place, then you will absolutely see better results.
1. Repetition to Feed Your Brain
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Repetition is the foundation of neuroplasticity, which is the #1 concept that every stroke survivor should know about.
Neuroplasticity is the mechanism that your brain uses to rewire itself. And if you don’t know about the phenomenon, you can learn about it in detail here.
To sum it up briefly, each time you repeat a pattern (like a thought or action), the connections in your brain responsible for that pattern become stronger.
For example, if you repeat your hand exercises every day, the connections in your brain responsible for hand movement will become stronger.
In order to maximize benefit from rehab exercises, you want to make sure that you repeat your rehab exercise over and over and over again so that your brain strengthens its connections enough to become skillful at moving again.
Rehab is nothing without good repetition.
2. Consistency to Prevent Your Hard Work from Fading
Now, just because you have repetition down doesn’t mean all your bases are covered.
You need to consistently use repetition in order for your brain to relearn movement. Otherwise, your neurons won’t have the reinforcement they need to stick.
Neurons that fire together only wire together if you’re consistent.
Each time you repeat something that you want to get good at, you reinforce the neural pathways that are forming. But if you don’t reinforce the pathways frequently and consistently enough, they will fade away.
So if you perform each hand exercise 50 times each, then you have the repetition part down pat. But if you only do that once a week, then those pathways start to fade between each session.
That’s why being both repetitious and consistent will help your improvements STICK.
3. Challenge to Make You Stronger
Now, what happens when all this gets easy? Well, first you celebrate. (Mandatory.)
But then what?
You’ve been performing those rubber band hand exercises 50 times each every single day for 2 months straight. And you’re honestly bored out of your mind with them.
At this point, you need to introduce more challenge into your regimen.
When something is challenging, it stimulates your brain in different ways than before. This extra stimulation helps trigger your brain to form new, stronger pathways in order to keep up with the challenge.
Because rubber band exercises are cool, but they may not be enough to help you relearn how to hold a spoon again. By introducing other hand exercises that are more challenging, your brain will adapt to the challenge and improve your fine motor abilities.
4. Variety to Shake Up Those Neurons
But try not to mistake challenge with variety.
They’re two different concepts – and you need both.
For example, using thicker resistance bands is one way to increase challenge without adding variety. And while those resistance bands will help your muscles get stronger, we’re focusing on your neurons too.
That’s why you need variety – to give your neurons a good shake.
So when your results start to slow down, it’s time to try something different. For example, you could switch up your leg exercises; try assisted swimming (or something of the like); or go to a Tai chi class.
As long as you do something different, it will engage different parts of your brain in all the best ways.
5. Fun to Keep You Going
Lastly, you need FUN to keep you going. Otherwise rehab will begin to feel dry and boring, and you’ll stop feeling motivated to continue.
To keep your spirits up, you can try incorporating some creativity into your regimen.
For example, you can take up painting (you don’t have to be good for it to feel good), writing, or even just listening to music (which is therapy all on its own).
And if you’re really looking for some fun, try finding rehab tools that incorporate fun, too.
Which, as you probably know by now, are our specialty 🙂