Hand recovery after stroke can be a long process — unless you use the right methods. That’s what this article will show you.
We’ll share the best ways to regain the use of your hand after stroke.
Best Hand Recovery After Stroke
Hand function is often the slowest to return after stroke because your hands are farthest from the midline of your body.
While arm and leg function might be faster to return, usually the hands and feet take longer to regain function.
The following methods can help you boost your hand recovery efforts.
1. Hand Rehabilitation Exercise
Rehabilitation exercise is, hands down, the most important method for recovering fine motor skills after stroke.
Focus on practicing hand therapy exercises to improve your fine motor skills. Ideally, you can practice the ones that your physical therapist suggests, or you can use our hand exercises for stroke patients.
The goal of rehab exercise is different from traditional exercise. While traditional exercise focuses on making your muscles stronger, rehab exercise focuses on making your brain stronger.
This brings us to the next method:
2. Massed Practice
Your brain relearns skills like this by rewiring itself through neuroplasticity, which is activated through rehab exercise. The more you practice rehab exercise, the more your brain rewires itself, and the more movement you recover.
Neuroscientists refer to this as “massed practice,” which essentially means practicing lots of repetitions of whatever skill you want to improve. In this case, it means lots of reps of hand exercises.
Repetitive practice will take your hand improvement very far, and it becomes even more effective with consistency.
Fuel your brain with repetition to rewire your brain, and then fuel your brain consistently to get those results to stick.
Consistent stimulation helps your brain create and retain the new neural pathways that you’re building. So find a hand therapy program that you like and stick to it!
Booster Techniques to Regain Hand Function After Stroke
Those techniques are the bread and butter of hand recovery after stroke. Stroke recovery needs neuroplasticity, repetition, and consistency. That’s the formula for success.
But there are a few more ways to take your progress even farther.
Next, we’re going to dig into some booster techniques that can take your hand improvement from good to great.
4. MusicGlove Hand Therapy
To help achieve the high repetition necessary for hand recovery after stroke, you can try high-tech devices like Flint Rehab’s MusicGlove.
It’s clinically proven to improve hand function within 2 weeks because it motivate you to accomplish hundreds of repetitions per exercise session.
5. Mirror Therapy
Mirror therapy involves placing a tabletop mirror over your affected hand so that it reflects your unaffected hand in place of your affected hand.
Then, you perform hand exercises with your unaffected hand, and it ‘tricks’ your brain into thinking that you’re moving your affected hand because of the reflection.
This sparks neuroplasticity and helps you regain movement in your affected hand.
6. Electrical Stimulation
Electrical stimulation is involves applying electrical currents to your skin to provide extra stimulation to your nerves and muscles. This amplifies the stimulation your brain receives.
In fact, electrical stimulation is one of the best treatments to recover from paralysis after stroke. When applied to the hands, wrists, and arms, it can help with hand recovery as well.
According to Katie Smith, OT, it’s best to use electrical stimulation at the same time as rehab exercise. By electrically stimulating your muscles while using them, you can regain hand movement much better.
7. Mental Practice
Mental practice is the art of visualizing yourself doing something. In this case, you would visualize yourself doing hand movements.
To boost hand improvement after stroke, you should mentally practice your hand exercises before and/or after your physical exercise.
Because when you mentally practice something, you engage neuroplasticity in the same way that physical practice does.
This is clinically proven to boost results. After all, there’s a reason why the world’s greatest athletes visualize their sport before a competition.
Hand Recovery After Stroke: A Summary
As long as you have neuroplasticity, repetitive practice, and consistency in place, then you’ll be on the fast track to recovery.
And if you can add some electrical stimulation, mirror therapy, or MusicGlove into the mix, then you’ll see improvement fast.