There are conflicting ideas when it comes to the best treatment for stroke.
However, there is something that all of the best treatment options have in common, and that thing is repetition.
It might sound weird, but after reading this article, you’ll understand exactly why repetition is the best cure for stroke.
The Best Treatment for Stroke Is All About the Brain
To understand which stroke treatments are the best, we need to first discuss the purpose of treatment.
Since stroke causes damage to the brain (because brain cells die when the supply of blood is blocked), the purpose of stroke treatment is to heal the brain.
Luckily – thanks to the genius of the human body – your brain already knows how to heal itself through neuroplasticity, the brain’s rewiring and reorganizing process.
Although the brain knows how to heal itself, it needs your help to get going.
The Brain Heals Through Repetition
Neuroplasticity is activated through repetition.
Each time you do something, specific neurons in your brain fire. The more these neurons fire together, the stronger their connections become.
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” –Donald Hebb, neuropsychologist
This is why habits become second nature. The more we practice something, the stronger those connections become and the more automatic those behaviors become.
Whatever you repeatedly practice is what your brain gets good at. So, while your brain knows how to heal itself, it needs you to put in the work, too.
Consistency and Repetition Help Grow Your Brain
Neuroplasticity also requires consistent practice to reinforce these new connections. That’s the formula for stroke recovery:
For example, someone who spends their days solving math problems will develop strong connections in their brain regarding math and, as a result, get really good at it!
Mathematicians literally have thicker grey matter in the part of their brain that controls arithmetic because of how strong those connections become. Cool, huh?
The same concept applies to you and your recovery. Whatever you spend your time practicing is what you will get better at.
Healing Your Stroke Side Effects Through Repetition
The stroke side effects that you need to heal can most likely (and we’ll explain what “most likely” means in a bit) be treated through repetitive practice.
Here are some examples of stroke side effects that you can treat through repetition:
Impaired movement can be treated by practicing moving. That’s that whole point of physical therapy. Your therapist gives you exercises to practice, and as you practice, you start to rewire the part of your brain that controls movement.
Impaired speech (a condition known as aphasia) can be treated by practicing various speech exercises. For example, when you work with a speech-language pathologist, they might have you practice tongue exercises. The more you practice, the more control you will regain over your speech.
Impaired senses (like difficulty feeling hot/cold) can be treated through sensory reeducation exercises. Essentially, by practicing feeling different textures and temperatures, you’ll get better at feeling.
These are just a few of the most common stroke side effects, but we hope it illustrates the concept that most side effects can be treated with practice.
Alright, now what do we mean by most?
Repetition Can Heal 90% of Stroke Side Effects
When we say “most,” we mean about 90% of stroke side effects.
Whatever you do not have the ability to practice cannot be treated through repetition, and about 10% of stroke side effects cannot be practiced.
For example, you can’t practice not having a seizure (a common stroke side effect) or not having headaches, so this doesn’t apply. For these cases, medication is often available to help.
But for everything else, practice makes perfect. Whatever is “practiceable” is treatable through repetition. This includes moving, walking, talking, feeling, seeing, remembering, and much more!
Neuroplasticity and Repetition are the King and Queen of Rehab
If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you might be a little tired of hearing us preach the importance of repetition and neuroplasticity – but we do it because it’s what every single stroke survivor MUST know.
Practicing repetition and activating neuroplasticity are the golden tickets that will get you a higher recovery than your doctor predicted. Seriously, it’s that powerful.
The only catch is that neuroplasticity takes hard work. There are no shortcuts. The good news is that hard work is always rewarded.
If you put in the time and energy to practice what you want to get better at, your brain will return the favor!
How Many Reps Do You Need?
A question that might come to mind is, “Well, how much repetition is enough?” And that varies based on what side effects you’re trying to improve and what kind of stroke you had.
To help give you a general idea, find the maximum number of repetition that you can stand – with proper form and without burnout and overexercising – and do that.
The more repetition you achieve each day, the faster you will improve.
For example, those who are trying to improve movement can often benefit from 40+ repetitions per day of rehab exercise.
The beauty of our FitMi home therapy device is that you can do 400+ repetitions per session to really speed your recovery along. Plus, it’s fun to use so you avoid burn out.
Whatever you choose to do, do a lot of it with good form. As much as you can stand, without burning yourself out.
Recover from Stroke Through Practice
So there you have it.
The best treatment for most stroke side effects is repetitive practice.
Repetition activates neuroplasticity and rebuilds the connections in your brain to compensate for the damage from stroke.
The more you practice, the stronger your skills will become!