Want to know the best ways to approach physical therapy for stroke patients at home? You’re in the right place.
You’re about to learn all the best tips for pursuing physical therapy at home.
Best Treatments for Physical Therapy at Home
First, we’ll start by listing the top 5 stroke recovery treatment options you can do at home.
1. Do Your Daily Stroke Rehab Exercises
Unlike traditional exercise, which focuses on strengthening your muscles, stroke recovery exercise strengthens your brain.
That’s because 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. Try Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy for Arm or Leg Paralysis
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. Try Mirror Therapy for Hand Recovery
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. Use Mental Practice to Boost Results
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 every day to visualize yourself moving better.
5. Don’t Forget About Home Rehabilitation Tools
Home therapy tools can help you see results faster during stroke rehab at home – especially if they can motivate you to complete a high number of repetition.
Because the more reps you complete, the better you get.
Start looking around online for effective home exercise equipment for stroke recovery. If you can find a tool that motivates high repetition, like our FitMi, it can help you improve mobility at home even faster.
Tips to Boost Physical Therapy for Stroke Patients at Home
Now that you know what the best physical therapy treatments are, it’s time to focus on work ethic.
Because knowing the best steps is much different than taking them.
Here are 10 tips to implement your best physical therapy regimen at home:
6. Harness the Relentless Force of Kaizen
Kaizen is the Japanese practice of continuous improvement through small, consistent steps.
Sound simple? Maybe too simple?
Well, the simplicity is actually the hardest part. Kaizen involves patience and persistence, something that many of us tends to lack these days. You can see it in our obsession with quick-fixes and radical diets – we want our results and we want them now!
But the truth is that rehabilitation works just like kaizen.
You can’t achieve your results all at once – it’s physically impossible. Instead, the best thing you can do to achieve success is take it one step at a time. This slow yet steady pace is exactly what will lead you to victory.
No gimmicks, no tricks, no hacks.
Just good hard work that will absolutely pay off in the end. So take it one day at a time and you will see success.
7. Listen to Your Physical Therapist
One of our physical therapists offered some sage advice:
Ditch the “Let’s see if this might work” mantra and start telling yourself, “I will do this therapy until it works!” No IF’s allowed.
Success starts with a positive attitude. If you approach your therapy from a hesitant, skeptical perspective, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Skeptical thoughts have no place in your rehabilitation.
Instead, approach each therapy – new and old – with positivity and open-mindedness. It really has an effect on your psychology which has an even bigger effect on the results you see.
8. Turn the Background Noise OFF to Turn Your Brain ON
Our home can be distracting, and sometimes we don’t even notice the distractions because we’ve conditioned ourselves to tune them out.
But your brain recognizes it.
And when your brain is distracted, you’re not reaping the full benefits of your rehab exercises. So make sure that you schedule your exercises when your environment will be the quietest.
Turn off the television and tell family members not to disturb you until you’re done.
Your brain is hard at work rewiring itself, so let it focus on that – and only that. Unnecessary distractions are not welcome in your at-home rehabilitation space.
9. Don’t Let the Plateau Stop You
Once you end rehab at the clinic and begin pursuing rehab at home, you may see your results slow down. It’s important not to let this discourage you.
A plateau is simply a slowing down, not a stopping.
Recovery will only stop when you stop.
A great way to bust through a plateau is to shake things up and add variety to your regimen. This gives your brain the stimulation it needs to recover.
10. Don’t Let Paralysis Stop You, Either
Post-stroke paralysis can be discouraging, but again, don’t let it stop you.
There are tons of stories of stroke survivors who overcome post stroke paralysis even when the doctors say there is no hope.
Read up on all the available options for post-stroke paralysis, and try everything you possibly can until you find something that works for you.
Most importantly, never give up hope.
11. Resist the Nocebo Effect for a Better Recovery
Don’t let someone’s opinion about your recovery deter your efforts.
When someone tells you that you can’t do something, you may fall under the nocebo effect, which is the opposite of the placebo effect. Instead of believing in positive outcomes, you begin to believe in negative outcomes, which unfortunately can turn those negative outcomes into reality.
Therefore, if someone tells you that you can’t achieve a full recovery, ignore them. You’re much better off believing in a full recovery than settling for someone else’s limiting beliefs.
12. Treat Spasticity the Smart Way
Spasticity is a common stroke side effect that deters many stroke survivors from pursuing recovery at home. Don’t let misinformation fool you.
Even though spasticity makes it tough to move your muscles, movement helps reverse spasticity! By rewiring your brain with rehab exercise, the spasticity will slowly go away.
Even if your muscles are paralyzed with spasticity, you can regain movement through passive exercise, which helps rewire the brain.
13. Take 30 Extra Seconds to Boost Your Brain
Wilting motivation is the biggest struggle that survivors deal with once they start doing rehab at home.
A great way – that’s backed by neuroscience – to get yourself to stick to your regimen is to visualize yourself sticking to your regimen.
Visualization can boost stroke recovery by changing your brain. And making the decision today to exercise tomorrow makes you far more likely to actually exercise.
Since the only way to improve movement is through exercise, we highly recommend visualizing yourself doing your rehab exercises every night — even if it’s just for 30 seconds!
You’ll see how 30 seconds a day can make a world of difference.
And that concludes our 13 best tips for physical therapy for stroke patients at home!