Immediately after stroke, patients are assisted by an entire team of medical professionals to help kick-start the healing process.
Sometimes this team consists of over a dozen people. That’s a lot of help per patient – for good reason! Stroke rehabilitation is an intensive process.
Once patients are discharged, however, this extra help goes away. It then becomes up to the patient and potential caregivers to ensure that progress continues.
To help make that happen, we’ve outlined 5 ways to continue improving mobility during stroke rehabilitation at home.
Before we get into it, however, it’s very important for you to understand what neuroplasticity is, because it will help you see the best results possible.
Here’s Best Way to Improve Movement at Home (or Anywhere!)
Neuroplasticity is the process that your brain uses to rewire itself and heal after injury. When there is damage to the brain from stroke, neuroplasticity allows your brain to rewire itself around the damage.
You can activate neuroplasticity through repetition. Whenever you repeat something, you send signals to your brain and your brain begins to rewire itself.
The more you repeat something, the stronger those new neural connections become.
Through consistent practice, you can regain control of your life by rewiring your brain, which will gradually improve your abilities.
Now that you know how to get the most benefit from rehabilitation, let’s dig into 5 different types of home therapy that you can try.
1. Rehabilitation Exercise
Unlike traditional exercise, which focuses on strengthening your muscles, rehabilitation exercise strengthens your brain.
Rehabilitation exercise focuses on high repetition to activate neuroplasticity and rewire your brain to control your movement better.
Repetition of therapeutic exercise movements is the single best way to continue to improving movement after stroke.
2. Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) involves restricting movement of your ‘good’ arm while forcing use of your affected arm.
Participating in CIMT is very simple. You only need to follow 3 steps:
- Constraining the unaffected limb
- Forcing use of the affected limb, and
- ‘Massed practice,’ which is just a fancy way of saying ‘lots of repetitions’
Even if you have very limited movement in your affected arm, it’s worth giving CIMT a try as it’s very effective.
3. Mirror Therapy
Mirror therapy is a great form of fine motor therapy that involves using a tabletop mirror to cover your affected arm with the reflection of your good arm while you perform tabletop rehab exercises.
The mirror image ‘tricks’ your brain into thinking that your affected arm is moving like your unaffected arm.
Although you logically know that you’re only moving one hand, your brain thinks that you’re moving both hands. This helps activate neuroplasticity and improve your fine motor skills.
Mirror therapy is particularly good for stroke survivors with severe fine motor impairment, too.
4. Mental Practice
Mental practice is exactly what it sounds like: mentally practicing something.
So, whatever you want to get better at, try mentally rehearsing it. For example, if you want to improve movement in your legs, then start mentally rehearsing your leg exercises.
Studies have shown that visualizing yourself moving helps activate neuroplasticity the same way that actually moving does!
And if you combine mental and physical practice together, then you’ll see even better results.
So, no matter what form of therapy you choose, commit to spending a little time (even 30 seconds) every day to visualize yourself moving better.
5. Home Rehabilitation Tools
Home therapy tools can help you see results faster after stroke – especially if they can motivate you to complete a high number of repetition.
Because the more reps you complete, the better you get.
Our latest home therapy tool, FitMi, helps you achieve 10x more repetition than traditional therapy. And it’s also a lot of fun to use.
If you want to take your home therapy to the next level, then learn more about FitMi to see if it’s a good fit for you.