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Effective Grasp and Release Activities for Stroke Recovery

therapist helping patient with grasp and release activities stroke

Grasp and release activities after stroke can help develop fine motor skills, which are often the slowest function to return after stroke.

Proper hand function is essential for performing activities of daily living like grooming and eating on your own.

To help with this, you’re about to discover some of the best grasp and release activities for stroke recovery.

The Best Grasp and Release Activities for Stroke Recovery

These grasp and release activities will help keep you engaged so that it’s easy to perform the repetitions you need to improve hand function after stroke:

1. Stringing Beads

pile of pony beads for grasp and release activities stroke

Stringing beads is a simple activity that encourages stroke survivors get creative and practice developing their fine motor skills. Make sure that you’re pulling the bead all the way through to the end of the string.

 If picking up tiny objects is still too difficult, start with larger beads and then progress to smaller ones.

2. Picking Up Items with Tongs

Lay out an assortment of items in different sizes and textures. Then, try to pick them up with a pair of tongs and arrange them in a row from smallest to biggest. The spring in the tongs provides some resistance as you try to clench your hand, and the activity helps develop hand-eye coordination

3. MusicGlove Hand Therapy

MusicGlove hand therapy interactive grasp and release activity for stroke

MusicGlove combines hand therapy, music, and gaming together for the ultimate hand rehabilitation experience. Users demonstrated “a significantly greater improvement in hand grasping ability,” according to this study.

MusicGlove encourages you to pinch your fingers together by matching the keys on the screen along to music. It has multiple difficulty levels so that you are challenged at all stages of recovery, and it tracks your progress.

Through each 30-minute session, stroke survivors can perform hundreds of finger-gripping movements.  

4. Therapy Putty

Therapy putty is an extremely versatile hand therapy product. You can mold it into any shape and squeeze it between your fingers or your entire hand. Therapy putty comes in a variety of different resistances to help you improve your grasping skills at any level of recovery.

See more hand therapy putty exercises »

5. Popping Bubble Wrap

popping bubble wrap grasp and release activities for stroke recovery

Just like MusicGlove, popping bubble wrap practices developing pincer grasp. Press your fingertips together to pop each bubble one at a time. You can also try to pop the bubbles by clenching your hand.

6. Alphabet Magnets

alphabet magnet gripping exercise for stroke survivors

Get a set of alphabet magnets and practice spelling out words and creating sentences on your refrigerator. The attraction between the magnet and the refrigerator surface forces you to grip onto the magnet to pull it off. This activity will also develop hand-eye coordination by making you practice accurate spacing and placement.

7. Sorting Candy

sorting candy grasp and release activities after stroke

Grab a bag of your favorite colorful candy (like Skittles or M&Ms) and separate them by color. Larger pieces of candy (like peach rings) will be easier to grab, so it might be a good idea to start off big and transition into smaller pieces of candy as your grasping skills improve.

How Grasp and Release Activities for Stroke Recovery Work

It’s important to understand that recovery after stroke is possible as long as you trust in the process and continue to work at it. Controlling your affected hand after stroke can be frustrating and discouraging, but don’t give up!

Repetition helps create and strengthen new neural pathways in the brain. The more you practice, the more natural your movements become.

The 7 grasp and release activities mentioned in this article will help you perform the repetitions necessary to improve hand functions after stroke. Hopefully, you give them a try.

Keep It Going: Download a Free PDF Hand Therapy Exercise Guide!

hand therapy ebook cover with example pages

Do you have this 25 page PDF of beautifully illustrated hand therapy exercises? You don’t want to miss this!

The best way to improve hand mobility after a stroke is to practice hand therapy exercises. Sign up below to get your copy of this free ebook.

You’ll also receive our weekly Monday newsletter that contains 5 articles on stroke recovery, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Meet the MusicGlove: An Evidence-Based and Fun-to-Use Hand Recovery Tool

If you want to motivate yourself to accomplish the high repetition of hand exercises necessary for recovery, then you need to meet the MusicGlove.

Created by Flint Rehab (who also created the blog you’re currently reading), this hand therapy tool is clinically proven to improve hand function within two weeks of use when used for at least 25 minutes a day.

See how other survivors have improved hand function with it:

“My wife suffered a stroke that resulted in her being paralyzed on her left side. She did not have the use of her left hand, even after going through physical therapy in the hospital.

I had ordered the MusicGlove, along with the FitMi system and had them ready for her when she arrived home from the hospital. She was unable to open, or separate, the fingers on her left hand, and seriously I had my doubts that the MusicGlove would work for her.

She has been home from the hospital a little over a month and thanks to this fabulous system, she is now able to not only spread her fingers out, but is able to use them at about 50% capacity.

We are thoroughly convinced that without the MusicGlove system her hand would be totally useless. We are looking forward to continued gains in the use of her hand and fingers. Thank you Flint Rehab for coming to our rescue.” –Mike S.

My mom loves it!

“We purchased the MusicGlove + FitMi pack for my mom after she suffered bilateral strokes. It’s so fun watching her play and it’s incredible how much her dexterity, range of motion, and strength has increased, even after only a few minutes a day. The Music Glove is a great way to improve while having fun doing it. I’m so thankful we found this product!” -Brenna

Fabulous device!

“We bought the MusicGlove for my brother, Kevin, after he had a stroke 5 years ago. This device has been so very helpful in his recovery! He has regained movement in his fingers which is just short of a miracle! It is such good therapy for him both physically and mentally!

Not only do we feel the physical movement helps but it’s a bit of music therapy also! He enjoys the variety of songs to choose from along with different levels of difficulty. It’s been worth every penny and then some! His physical therapist says it’s priceless!!” –Lori

Not only is MusicGlove beloved and approved by survivors, but it’s also used in the top rehab clinics in the world, including the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, the #1 ranked hospital in America.

When you choose to use MusicGlove, you’re in good company. To learn more about the hand therapy device from Flint Rehab, click the button below: