The 7 Best Pieces of Hand Exercise Equipment for Stroke Patients

The 7 Best Pieces of Hand Exercise Equipment for Stroke Patients

While choosing your hand exercise equipment during stroke recovery, you will be faced with many options.

How do you know what’s the best?

And how do you know what’s the best for you?

In this article, we will discuss the most important things to look for and how to find a device that fits your needs.

Then we will list all the best hand exercise equipment that we’ve found – or made ourselves.

Let’s get started.

The Most Important Thing to Look For

Every physical and occupational therapist has their own opinion on what’s best for each patient – and rightfully so.

However, there’s one string of advice that remains the same for everyone:

Find something that’s meaningful and motivating to you.

Everyone knows that boring rehab simply goes undone. The less stimulating your hand therapy equipment is, the more likely you will procrastinate and fail to pursue recovery.

That’s why you need to look for home exercise equipment that excites and motivates you.

The Second Most Important Thing to Look For

Aside from something motivating and meaningful, you want to look for equipment that can help you achieve a high number of reps.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, then you’ve heard us drill this point again and again and again: repetitive practice is how you will get your hand back.

The more you repeat your hand exercises, the better your brain becomes at controlling your hand. (Read about neuroplasticity to learn more.)

Rehab starts in the brain, not the body. So your equipment isn’t made for your muscles (although reversing muscle atrophy is important) – it’s actually made for your brain.

So look for equipment that engages a high number of reps so that you can recover quickly.

Hand Exercise Equipment for Stroke Recovery

Alright, now that you know what to look for, let’s move on to the best hand exercise equipment that we’ve found.

Yes, this list includes our own stuff – because hand therapy is our specialty – but it also includes other stuff, with unaffiliated links.

The following hand exercise equipment is organized from simple and cheap to complex and effective.

7. Hand Therapy Balls

Hand therapy balls are the simplest form of hand therapy there is.

Most come with different softness/hardness so that you can find a challenge that’s good for you.

We sell them here on our website, and we also have a free PDF available with 8 different exercises that you can do!

What it’s good for:

Introducing dexterity and strength back into the hand. Various exercises can target both flexion and extension.

6. Therapy Putty

Therapy putt is the most popular hand therapy exercise accessory by far – at least for us. What can we say, everyputty love some putty!

When choosing your therapy putty, look for the kind that comes in different ‘resistances,’ which simply means different soft/hardnesses.

That way you can keep yourself challenged and continue to increase strength and dexterity as you improve.

What it’s good for:

Introducing dexterity and strength back into the hand. Focuses more on manipulation than the therapy balls.

Various exercises can target both flexion and extension.

5. Finger Exercisers

Hand strengtheners are great for both retraining your brain and strengthening your muscles.

As we’ve talked about on the blog before, not using your muscles causes them to become smaller. Exercise is a great way to reverse that pattern and rebuild strength.

Both the therapy balls and therapy putty help strengthen your hand too, but the exerciser adds even more challenge.

What it’s good for:

Retraining finger flexion while also increasing finger and grip strength. Can be helpful for stiff finger joints.

4. Exercise Hand Skate

If you’re looking to regain movement in your hand, you likely need to work on your arm, wrist, and shoulder.

Hand skates are a great way to improve range of motion in all of those areas.

Watch this YouTube video to see what it’s like.

What it’s good for:

Range of motion.

3. Tabletop Mirror Therapy

Mirror therapy is amazing. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read about mirror therapy here.

Some patients will try mirror therapy in the clinic. If you have benefitted from it – as most patients do – then you can try doing it at home with a tabletop mirror therapy set.

What it’s good for:

Regaining movement in your hand even with severe impairments.

Mirror therapy is good for all impairment levels (but if your impairments are severe, then you may need help from a caregiver to complete passive exercises).

2. PVC Pipe Tree

Now we’re getting into the fun stuff.

Some clinics have PVC pipe trees that patients can use to practice their fine motor/manipulation skills while building figures with the pipes.

While the pipe trees may get boring after a while, they are much more interesting and challenging than the cheaper hand therapy accessories.

What it’s good for:

Improving fine and gross motor skills due to the complex manipulation involved.

1. MusicGlove

MusicGlove is a sophisticated and easy-to-use hand therapy device that is clinically proven to improve hand function in just 2 weeks.

By linking hand movements to a motivating, musical game, MusicGlove encourages hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of repetitions.

As you know, repetition and motivation are the top two elements to look for in effective hand therapy, and MusicGlove delivers.

What it’s good for:

MusicGlove rapidly improves fine motor skills and helps improve finger dexterity in just 2 weeks.

It also makes rehab less boring by incorporating music and gaming.

Bonus:

If you combine mirror therapy with MusicGlove, then you might even be able to regain movement in a paralyzed hand like one of our previous patients did!

What to Choose…

As you mull over your options, remember to keep these 3 things in mind:

Choose something that…

  1. …is meaningful to you so that you are motivated to keep using it
  2. …incorporates a high number of repetitions to speed recovery along

Whether you start with simple hand accessories or go straight for good stuff, we hope that you have a better understanding of what it takes to make a successful hand recovery.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them for us below!