Hand recovery after stroke can be a slow process, but your chances of recovery are higher every time you involve your hand in an activity. 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. Also, the smaller the muscle, the quicker the fatigue of the muscle.
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 crucial 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.
While traditional exercise focuses on making your muscles stronger, the goal of rehab exercise focuses on connecting the brain to the body through movement.
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 is practicing multiple repetitions of a skill you want to improve. In this case, it means many repetitions of hand exercises.
Repetitive practice becomes even more effective with consistency on a daily basis.
Fuel your brain with repetition to rewire your brain, and then fuel your brain consistently to get more recovery and healing.
Consistent stimulation helps your brain create and retain the new neural pathways that you’re building. Find a hand therapy program that you like and take charge of your healing!
Booster Techniques to Regain Hand Function After Stroke
Stroke recovery includes neuroplasticity, repetition, and consistency for success.
Now we’re going to offer some booster techniques that increase your ability for additional recovery of hand function.
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.
If you perform hand exercises with your unaffected hand, 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 involves applying electrical currents to your skin to provide extra stimulation to your nerves and muscles. This amplifies the stimulation your brain receives.
Electrical stimulation is another standard treatment to recover from paralysis after stroke. When applied to the hands, wrists, and arms, it activates muscle movement, which in turn, sends a signal to the brain.
According to Katie Smith, OTR, it’s best to use electrical stimulation at the same time as rehab exercise. By electrically stimulating your muscles while using them, additional signals are sent to the brain since your brain remembers using these muscles for a functional activity.
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.
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 successful outcomes of their sport before a competition.
Hand Recovery After Stroke: A Summary
When you have neuroplasticity, repetitive practice, and consistency in place, recovery and healing are enhanced.
Including electrical stimulation, mirror therapy, and/or MusicGlove into your exercise routine can improve your chances of increased function of the hand.