Fine motor activities after stroke can help improve hand and finger mobility.
Hand and finger movement is often slower to recover than the arm or leg. That’s because the extremities are farther from the midline of the body, so recovery takes more effort.
Fortunately, you can accelerate hand and finger recovery with fine motor exercise.
To help you achieve your goals, you’re about to discover some great fine motor activities for adults after stroke.
Fine Motor Activities After Stroke
Here are some fun and effective fine motor activities for adults after stroke:
1. Therapy ball exercises
Hand therapy ball exercises are great for stroke patients, especially those that have hand weakness or struggle with clenched hands after stroke. Some exercises involve squeezing or pinching a therapy ball, which would benefit patients who need to strengthen the finger flexors (the muscles that allow you to bend your fingers and make a fist).
However, hand therapy balls can also be useful for patients with spasticity that present with clenched fists. By placing their hand and fingers around the ball, this can allow them to stretch out the tightened muscles. If spasticity is severe, these patients may need to use their unaffected hand to help place the spastic hand around the ball.
2. Therapy putty exercises
Therapy putty is a popular hand rehabilitation tool used in occupational therapy. By manipulating the putty in various ways, you can give your hand a good workout. For example, you can practice finger extension by wrapping the putty around your index finger and then extending your finger up, pushing through the resistance of the putty.
3. MusicGlove hand therapy
While most hand therapy exercises can be dry and boring, MusicGlove is a high-tech home therapy system that incorporates gaming and music into your hand exercises. It’s clinically proven to improve hand function in just 2 weeks because patients are motivated to achieve higher repetition of finger exercises.
4. Tabletop exercises
Whenever you’re sitting at a table, it’s a great time to do some hand exercises. You can use various household items like coins or pens to do a variety of training with your fine motor skills. For example, the pen spin is a fine motor skill activity used by occupational therapists.
5. Moving beans
If you have any raw beans in your pantry, pour some onto a table and practice moving them into a cup, one by one. While this might be mundane, it’s a common occupational therapy exercise for fine motor skills.
6. Stacking pennies
Have any spare change lying around? Try stacking coins on top of each other for some cheap fine motor activities.
7. Rubber band resistance
Rubber bands make great “resistance training” for your fingers. Simply place the bands around your thumb and index finger and try to push the band apart. You can do this with all 4 of your fingers.
How to Improve Fine Motor Skills
The key to improving fine motor skills after stroke is to accomplish high repetition of exercises on a consistent basis.
High repetition is key to recovery because it helps activate neuroplasticity after stroke, the mechanism the brain uses to rewire itself and recover.
If you struggle with severe spasticity, which often results in clenched hands after stroke, you can start with passive exercises.
Passive exercise involves assisting your hand with your non-affected hand. This helps stimulate neuroplasticity and encourage recovery.
The more repetitions you practice on a consistent basis, the more your fine motor skills will improve.
Although progress may come slowly, especially with severe hand impairments, your brain is on your side.
As long as you put in the reps, you’ll improve your chances of recovery.