Massed practice is extremely important during stroke recovery.
In fact, we consider massed practice the #1 stroke recovery treatment.
Because when the brain becomes damaged by stroke, massed practice helps the brain rewire itself and heal from the damage from stroke.
To understand how to use massed practice to recover from stroke, read on!
We’ll share specific examples of massed practice and explain how many repetitions you need to recover as quickly as possible.
Let’s dive in.
Why Massed Practice Is the Best Remedy during Stroke Rehabilitation
After stroke, a chunk of the brain becomes damaged, and those brain cells are unable to carry out their normal functions.
This creates stroke side effects like hemiplegia, paralysis on the affected side, for example.
In order to heal from this damage, the surrounding areas of the brain need to rewire themselves to pick up the slack.
This is possible through neuroplasticity after stroke.
Neuroplasticity is the mechanism that your brain uses to rewire itself and form new neural connections.
Each time you practice something, you strengthen those neural pathway. The more you practice, the stronger those skills become.
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” –Donald Hebb, neuropsychologist
That’s how massed practice helps recovery after stroke.
How Repetitive Action Helps Rewire and Heal the Brain After Stroke
Looking at habits can help illustrate the importance of massed practice during stroke rehabilitation.
A habit is something that you do with little effort because you’ve done it hundreds of times before.
Your repetitive action created very strong pathways in the brain for that specific habit, which is why habits become “mindless.”
In contrast to this, a stroke can cause a patient to exert more effort to perform the basic activities of daily living, like getting dressed.
That’s because the stroke damaged the previously well-reinforced neural pathways that once controlled those skills.
Luckily, the brain can rewire itself to rebuild those neural pathways again.
Which Stroke Side Effects Can Be Healed Through Massed Practice?
Most stroke side effects can be treated through massed practice.
By practicing the skills that you need to rebuild, you can recover from stroke.
Here are some examples of stroke side effects that you can treat through repetition:
Impaired movement can be treated through massed practice of stroke exercises.
The more repetitions you perform during physical therapy, the more your brain rewires itself.
As a result, mobility improves.
Impaired speech (a condition known as aphasia) can be treated through massed practice of speech therapy 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 massed practice of sensory reeducation exercises.
Essentially, by practicing feeling different textures and temperatures, you’ll get better at feeling.
This is how massed practice can help you recover form almost every stroke side effect!
How Much Repetition Do You Need to Recover from Stroke?
So, massed practice helps reverse stroke side effects. But how much repetition is enough?
Let’s look at the studies.
In animal studies on neuroplasticity after stroke, it was shown that 400-600 repetitions per day of challenging functional tasks can lead to changes in the brain.
However, most therapies for upper arm and hand rehabilitation only require about 40-60 repetitions per session.
That’s far below what the brain needs, which can explain why stroke patients hit a plateau about 3 months after stroke.
So, dozens of repetitions is good, but hundreds of repetitions is best.
That’s the beauty of high-tech rehab devices, like Flint Rehab’s FitMi home therapy. It helps you accomplish 400 or more repetitions per session.
This massed practice helps you rewire the brain faster and reverse the effects of stroke.
Recover from Stroke with Massed Practice
And there you have it!
One of the best methods for stroke recovery is massed practice.
Repetition helps activate neuroplasticity and rewire the brain to compensate for the damage from stroke.
The more you practice, the stronger your skills will become!