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Exercise for Stroke Patients with Paralysis: How to Get Started

therapist working on exercise for stroke patients with paralysis

Exercise for stroke patients with paralysis should involve passive exercise to help restore movement.

You’re about to learn the difference between active and passive exercise and why it helps paralysis recovery after stroke. Then, you’ll discover some examples.

If you feel unsure about your chances of recovery from post-stroke paralysis, these exercises will give you a significant boost.

Active vs Passive Rehab Exercise

Active rehab exercise involves doing a movement on your own.

Passive exercise involves assisting your affected limbs through a movement. This is where stroke patients with paralysis should start.

Passive exercise helps with paralysis recovery because it does not require effort (from the affected muscles, at least). Rather, passive exercise involves using your non-affected side to move your paralyzed muscles.

When rehabilitating heavier limbs, like the legs, passive exercise will require the help of a caregiver, therapist, or family member.

Also, if both sides of the body were affected by stroke, then assistance from another person will also be required.

Passive Exercise Helps Post-Stroke Paralysis

Passive rehab exercise helps paralysis recovery because it activates neuroplasticity, the mechanism that your brain uses to rewire itself after injury.

Although passive exercise may not feel like you’re “doing it yourself,” the stimulation still helps activate neuroplasticity.

When stroke damages part of your brain, neuroplasticity allows other parts of the brain to take over. Neuroplasticity is how you regain movement after stroke (along with many other side effects).

You can activate neuroplasticity through repetition.

If you want to regain movement after post-stroke paralysis, then you need to practice passive stroke exercises repetitively, as much as possible.

In the beginning, start with passive exercise. As you slowly regain small amounts of movement, you can eventually progress to active exercises.

Progress can be very slow. However, once patients see twitches or tiny movements start to come back, it will motivate them to continue with their passive exercise.

Exercise for Stroke Patients with Paralysis

Luckily, doing passive exercises isn’t complicated. Simply find active exercises and assist your affected muscles through the movements.

For example, here’s an easy leg exercise that you can turn into a passive exercise:

Hip Flexion with Hold

starting position of leg paralysis recovery exercise
ending position of leg paralysis recovery exercise

Use your hands to lift your affected leg up into your chest and hold it for one second. Then, slowly lower your leg back down.

This movement is passive because you assist your affected leg with your arms. To make the movement active, you simply raise your leg without the help of your arms.

See more leg exercises for stroke patients »

Arm Punching Movement

Here’s another example exercise for stroke patients with paralysis. It’s called “Punching Movement” and it targets the arms:

starting position for arm exercise for stroke patients with paralysis
ending position for arm exercise for stroke patients with paralysis

To perform this exercise, slide your arm across the table to ‘punch’ the water bottle, and then pull your arm back.

This exercise can easily be turned into a passive exercise by using your torso to push your arm forward. It can just as easily be turned into an active exercise by initiating the whole movement with your arm.

These exercises help restore movement after post stroke paralysis by relinking your mind to your muscles.

See more arm exercises for stroke patients »

Bonus Paralysis Recovery Exercise: Mental Practice

woman using mental practice for paralysis recovery

Stroke patients that struggle with paralysis can benefit from combining mental practice with their passive rehab exercises.

Mental practice involves imagining (or visualizing) yourself doing the movements you want to get better at. This helps activate neuroplasticity just like physical practice does.

For example, if you want to regain movement in your arm, spend time visualizing yourself doing the Punching Movement above. Then, after your visualization, practice the movement in real life.

Combining mental practice with physical practice leads to even better results.

High Tech Paralysis Recovery Tools

If you’re looking for a tool that can help with stroke paralysis recovery, then Flint Rehab’s high-tech FitMi can help.

FitMi is designed to help you achieve the high repetition necessary for recovery – and you can use it even if you’re starting with paralyzed limbs. It has a proven track record helping stroke patients recover from paralysis.

A man with a paralyzed arm regained movement in just 3 week using FitMi!

Simply start by using it passively and then work your way up to active exercise.

Paralysis Recovery After Stroke

To sum everything up, the formula for paralysis recovery is simple:

Gather some rehabilitation exercises and practice them passively by assisting your affected limbs through the movement. Couple this with mental practice for the best results.

Focus on high repetition and consistency, and you will be on the road to recovery. With time and repetition, you will be able to progress to active exercise. Good luck!

Bonus! Get a Free Rehab Exercise Ebook (14 page PDF)

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See how Susan is recovering from post-stroke paralysis

“I had a stroke five years ago causing paralysis on my left side which remains today.

I recently began using FitMi.

At first it was difficult for me to be successful with a few of the exercises but the more I use it, the better my scores become.

I have recently had some movement in my left arm that I did not have before.

I don’t know if I can directly relate this to the use of the FitMi but I am not having occupational therapy so I conclude that it must be benefiting me.

The therapy modality motivates me to use it daily and challenges me to compete against my earlier scores.

I heartily recommend it!-Susan, stroke survivor

FitMi is our best-selling home therapy tool because it helps patients of all ability levels.

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