Stroke treatments for paralysis can be hard to find.
Why is that?
Well, unfortunately there aren’t enough clinical studies on effective stroke treatments for paralysis, so doctors and therapists don’t have much to that they can (legally) recommend.
Please don’t let the void discourage you from exploring your options – because you have options!
Today we’d like to share some unconventional tactics for curing stroke paralysis.
Most of these methods are used for general stroke recovery – not stroke paralysis specifically – but we’ve heard that some paralyzed survivors have had success with them.
And if they worked for some, they could work for you.
So let’s dive in.
1. Assisted Mirror Therapy
A few months ago we wrote a story about a man who regained movement in his paralyzed hand with our device, MusicGlove (even though that’s not what it’s intended for).
The best part was that he regained movement even after doctors told him there was no hope.
How did he get his paralyzed hand back?
Because his wife, Elizabeth, invented a little creative rehab exercise that we call ‘assisted mirror therapy.’ Although it doesn’t involve the use of a mirror, the practice utilizes the same principles as mirror therapy.
Here’s how it works:
Elizabeth put the hand therapy device on her husband’s NON-affected hand and had him complete the hand exercises with that hand. Then she assisted his affected/paralyzed hand and mirrored what he was completing with his ‘good’ hand.
This helped stimulate the part of his brain responsible for hand movement and initiate neuroplasticity. Then, as she continued to assist his paralyzed hand, his brain began to relearn how to use that hand.
In time, he regained twitches in his hand, which completely surprised his therapists. And it was only upward from there!
Mirror therapy – and its creative derivatives – work because it makes the brain think that it’s moving the paralyzed hand even when it isn’t (here’s the science behind it); and this helps stimulate neuroplasticity in the areas of the brain responsible for making that movement.
How to put assisted mirror therapy into practice:
Ask your therapist, friend, or family member if they can help assist your paralyzed limbs like this during your stroke rehabilitation exercises at home; and keep it up regularly.
Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. As long as assisted movement is there, then the brain is hard at work rewiring itself!
2. Mental Practice
Mental practice is the art of visualizing yourself performing a movement that you want to perform.
Mental practice can help treat stroke paralysis because visualizing yourself moving your paralyzed limbs helps initiate neuroplasticity in the area of the brain responsible for that movement!
Yes, studies have shown that mentally practicing a movement helps initiate neuroplasticity the same way that physical practice does!
And when you combine mental practice with assisted physical practice, you have a recipe for success.
How to put mental practice into practice:
Take some time each day to visualize yourself moving your paralyzed muscles. The more time you spend doing this, the better; but for now just aim for 5 minutes a day.
3. Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has recently gained traction for its use in stroke recovery. HBOT involves wearing an oxygen mask that delivers pure oxygen to you in a pressurized room or tube. This rapidly increases the amount of oxygen going to the brain
One particularly interesting study showed that “HBOT can lead to significant neurological improvements in post stroke patients even at chronic late stages.” WOW! That statement is simply overflowing with hope.
No studies have been conducted on HBOT specifically for stroke paralysis, but we have heard many stories of it successfully helping stroke survivors with hemiplegia (paralysis on half of the body). And again, if it’s happened for some people, it could happen for you.
How to put HBOT into practice:
And if you have any recommendations, leave a comment for our readers in the section below!
4. Magnetic Brain Stimulation
Magnetic brain stimulation works by ‘activating’ the healthy, surrounding parts of the brain to encourage neuroplasticity – the most important aspect of stroke recovery. Through neuroplasticity, new neurons pick up the responsibilities that the damaged part of the brain once controlled.
Neuroplasticity is encouraged by physical and mental practice – and magnetic brain stimulation can boost this process.
While old studies on magnetic brain stimulation mostly focused on survivors with existing movement, researchers are now starting to discover that it can work for hemiplegia too.
How to put it into practice:
First, you will need to find an institution that offers transcranial magnetic stimulation. A simple Google search should do the trick.
Second, you should continue to do rehab exercises in conjunction with the treatment since the brain still needs stimulation to rewire itself. Magnetic brain stimulation alone is not enough to help.
In one study, researchers found that survivors who received acupuncture had significantly more outcome levels of “Good Response/Markedly Effective” than the survivors who received fake acupuncture.
The study concluded that the benefits of acupuncture may be associated with increase cerebral blood flow and the release positive brain chemicals like endorphins.
While the results of one study aren’t very compelling, we have heard many stories from stroke survivors who have had success with acupuncture. While it doesn’t work for everyone, it has certainly worked for some – which means that it could work for you, too.
How to put acupuncture into practice:
Ask friends and family if they have an acupuncturists that they recommend. If they don’t, then a thorough search on Yelp! can do the trick.
Alright, this is a bonus treatment because, well, it’s not technically a treatment – it’s an exercise that you can do to increase your chances of recovering. Because in order to recover movement after stroke paralysis, you have to believe that you can recover.
And the best way to believe in recovery is to tell yourself that you believe in recovery by repeating positive affirmations.
How to put affirmations into practice:
Every day, repeat these sentences to yourself (out loud or in your head) at least 20 times:
“I am healing my body.
I can fully recover from stroke.
I will move again.”
The more you repeat these words, the more your mind will buy into them. That’s how neuroplasticity works. And we bet that after a week of reciting these affirmations, you will feel a change in your attitude toward your recovery.
And don’t be afraid to make up some of your own!
What do you think of these treatments for post stroke paralysis?
Have you tried any of them, or do you have any others that you recommend?
Please leave us a comment below to share your thoughts with our community.
Stroke paralysis treatments are hard to come by, and this is a space for you to find, share, and discuss possible treatments.