Certain types of gloves for stroke patients can prevent contractures and even improve fine motor skills.
Depending on your level of disability, some gloves will work better than others. For example, patients with clenched fists after stroke will require a different type of glove than those who still retain some hand function.
To help you find the best glove for you, this article will discuss the 3 different types of rehab gloves for stroke patients. We’ll also explain how you can decide between the 3 options to choose the one that will best promote recovery.
How Stroke Affects Hand Movement
Before we share the gloves available for stroke recovery, it will help to understand how stroke affects hand movement. A stroke disrupts the signals that the brain sends to the muscles. Depending on the location of the stroke, it can affect the muscles of the hand in particular.
When these neural signals to the hand are interrupted, stroke survivors can experience weakness, spasticity, and even paralysis. Spasticity causes involuntary muscle contractions, which eventually leads to shortening of the muscles and, if left untreated, loss of function.
Fortunately, these problems can sometimes be reversed, thanks to the brain’s remarkable ability to repair itself.
Utilizing Neuroplasticity to Restore Hand Function After Stroke
The best way to restore movement and function after stroke is to activate neuroplasticity, the brain’s natural repair mechanism.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself. It does this by forming new neural connections based on experiences, lifestyle, and environment.
After stroke, neuroplasticity may allow the brain to transfer functions previously controlled by damaged areas of the brain to other, healthy ones.
You can activate neuroplasticity through massed practice, task-oriented training (high repetitions of specific tasks in your daily life that require movements).
However, this can be difficult to do when your hand is paralyzed or weakened by stroke. This is where stroke rehab gloves enter the picture.
Best Types of Gloves for Stroke Patients
Gloves are practical rehab tools that can help stroke patients recover some damage and restore mobility.
The following are the three best types of gloves for stroke patients, and the pros and cons associated with each:
Static Hand Braces
These types of gloves are ideal for stroke patients with clenched and immobile hands. Static braces open up the fingers and palm and hold them in a stretched position. This helps prevent contractures in the hand.
Contractures cause muscles to shorten and become stiff, which restricts function. By stretching the muscles, these braces can help restore functional movement.
However, on their own, static hand braces will not help you regain use of your affected hand. That’s because, in order to restore hand function, you must activate neuroplasticity. As discussed above, one of the best ways to activate neuroplasticity is through repetitive movement.
Static gloves, by definition, do not allow any movement of the hand or fingers. Therefore, while these gloves are useful, they are not intended as a long-term solution, and typically are only worn for certain portions of the day.
Speak with your occupational therapist to determine if this type of brace is appropriate for you, and if so, what a good wearing schedule would be.
Like static braces, assistive gloves stretch your fingers to prevent contractures. But they are also flexible enough to allow you to participate in activities of daily living.
Benefits of assistive gloves include:
- Prevents excess buildup of fluid
- Protects joints
- Gradually restores movement
However, even assistive gloves do not challenge the brain enough to activate neuroplasticity. This leads us to the final type of glove on our list.
The final type of glove for stroke patients is actually an exercise device. These devices give your hand an intense workout, which will rewire the brain through neuroplasticity. This allows you to achieve permanent results and restore full function.
For example, Flint Rehab’s MusicGlove is clinically proven to improve hand function in as little as two weeks. By combining therapeutic music with gaming elements, MusicGlove creates an immersive rehab experience that encourages patients to keep up with therapy at home.
MusicGlove is most suited for stroke patients who have minimal hand function. If you have lost all function, we recommend starting with a static or assistive glove.
Choosing the Best Stroke Rehabilitation Glove for You
No single type of glove for stroke patients will work for everyone. People with severe hand impairments will need to follow a longer process than people with minor impairments.
If your hand is severely clenched and spastic, you would most likely benefit from a brace. Then, once your flexibility has improved, you can invest in an exercise glove such as MusicGlove to help you regain full movement.
If your hand is relatively open but still limited in movement, you can skip straight to an exercise glove. You can also practice other hand therapy exercises to restore your fine motor skills.
We hope this guide to stroke rehab gloves helps you find the one that best meets your needs.
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