No products in the cart.

No products in the cart.

Writing Exercises For Stroke Patients to Improve Agraphia

writing exercises for stroke patients to improve handwriting

The inability to write after a stroke is called agraphia. It’s primarily caused by impaired motor control in the hand (peripheral agraphia) or disrupted language processing skills (central agraphia). Writing exercises for stroke patients can help improve agraphia by retraining fine motor skills and cognitive functioning.

This article includes the most effective writing exercises for stroke patients with peripheral or central agraphia.

Writing Exercises for Stroke Patients with Peripheral Agraphia (Hand Weakness)

Patients with peripheral agraphia know what they want to write, but they struggle with the fine motor control to manage writing physically due to weak grip strength or tremors. Writing exercises for stroke patients focus on improving hand function and handwriting.

Below are some writing exercises for stroke patients that improve strength and dexterity in the hand:

1. Practicing Grasp and Release Exercises

Regaining the ability to grasp and hold a pencil is the foundation to writing again after a stroke. By practicing grasp and release activities, you can improve your ability to hold a pencil.

The key is to practice a high number of repetitions of each exercise to help rewire the brain. Especially after a stroke, high repetition is key to regaining motor control.

But you also may notice some muscle fatigue. The smallermuscles fatigue more easily. Don’t let fatigue keep you from getting in many repetitions.

After some rest begin again training those fine muscles/nerves. Sometimes, the further away (more peripheral) from the core of your body, the slower the recovery. For example, hand function often takes longer to improve than arm function.

Therefore, take frequent, short breaks during writing exercises to prevent frustration or maladaptive compensation to complete the movement. Remember your body has to relearn these motor skills and that will take many repetitions over some time. 

Discover grasp and release exercises that can improve your grip »

2. Using a Universal Cuff

universal cuff to improve handwriting after stroke

If you’re experiencing difficulties holding a pen or pencil after a stroke, using a universal cuff may assist with maintaining a functional grip on the pen. These aids keep you engaged and attempting movements which stimulate your brain to reform connections.

By sliding your writing utensil inside the slits of the universal cuff, you create a handle that helps ensure your writing utensil will not drop, even if you lose your grip on it.

There are additional adaptive devices that can assist with writing. An occupational therapist can help you decide which item is best suited for successful writing skills. They are also best suited to provide you with specific exercises or even stretches to address your unique weakness since people vary in their limitations after a stroke.

3. Pressing Piano Keys

Pressing on piano keys is a great way to develop finger strength, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. Whether this is a familiar activity or not it is very stimulating for your nervous system due to the auditory inputs. When you perform an activity that is familiar, the brain usually has more cells/resources toactivate the muscle movement again.

These fine motor skills are essential for improving handwriting after a stroke. Playing the piano is a fun and engaging activity that makes it easy to perform the repetitions necessary to promote neuroplasticity.

4. Tracing

tracing writing exercise for stroke patients

Following a visual cue is helpful for your brain as it is finding a new way to direct your muscles. Have someone write a few words on a piece of paper so that you can use it as a reference to trace over.

Ask them to write large and use a thick marker so that the words will be easier to trace. You can also create your own template on your computer, adjust the font size and thickness, and print it to create your reference sheet to trace.

Having a reference sheet will encourage you to compare and fix your mistakes for more accurate handwriting.

5. Using Grasp and Release Rehab Technology

MusicGlove hand exercises to improve writing after stroke

Technology helps us engage with exercises for stroke patients with less monotony and boredom.  Thankfully there’s a well established gripping device that will get you to engage with writing exercises for stroke patients while having a good time too.

This rehab tool focuses specifically on grasp and release activities and is called MusicGlove from Flint Rehab. MusicGlove combines music, gaming, and hand therapy for an engaging rehabilitation experience that is clinically proven to improve hand function in 2 weeks.

By following the keys on the screen and pinching your fingertips together, you practice curling your fingers in the same way you would to grip a pen.

6. Connect the Dots

connect the dots writing exercises for stroke patients

Have someone write letters in dots, or find a worksheet like this one online and print it. Visualize the letters and connect the dots. This activity will guide your writing and familiarize your brain with the appropriate movements.

7. Finger Resistance Training

best writing exercises for stroke patients

Place your fingers inside a rubber band and separate your fingers. The resistance of the rubber band will help strengthen your finger muscles. To increase resistance, add more rubber bands.

Writing Exercises for Stroke Patients with Central Agraphia (Language Processing Difficulties)

With central agraphia, cognition is affected. Even though you may be physically able to write, you may experience difficulties remembering how to spell or write down the correct letters.

Central agraphia is generally treated by working with a speech-language pathologist. These therapists are highly trained in helping stroke patients relearn how to write words after a stroke.

Try these writing exercises if you have central agraphia:

8. Copy and Recall Treatment (CART)

practicing writing exercises for stroke patients

Copy and recall treatment involves repeatedly copying and re-writing to ensure that the individual can spell the targeted words. The more the patient writes the word, the more successfully its spelling is retained.

one technique a speech-language pathologist may emply involves writing a word down and while say it aloud. Then, the patient will be asked to copy the word down multiple times.

If the patient is successful, the speech-language pathologist will take away or cover all examples of the written word and ask the patient to write it down from memory multiple times.

Many repetitions are involved to engage the brain again. Asking your doctor to prescribe treatments from a speech-language pathologist will put you on a good path towards practicing at home until your brain begins to adapt.

9. Anagram and Copy Treatment (ACT)

Anagram and copy treatment involves training the patient to recognize the letters that make up a word and arranging them in the proper order. A speech-language pathologist will display the letters that make up a word in scrambled order and then ask the patient to spell the target word using the letters available.

If correct, the patient will be asked to write it down multiple times. If incorrect, the speech-language pathologist will write it down for the patient, and then have the patient copy the correct spellin multiple times. The letters will be re-scrambled until the patient can independently write the word correctly

Getting Back to Writing After Stroke

If you struggle with agraphia after a stroke, make sure you get an accurate diagnosis from your Speech-Language Pathologist. There are a variety of ways your stroke may have impaired this complex skill. A correct diagnosis will help you practice the most relevant exercises to improve writing after a stroke.

It’s important to promote neuroplasticity by performing high repetition of each exercise. More repetition means more stimulation for the brain, which helps the brain rewire itself and regain control of the hand.

We hope these exercises help you get back to writing after your stroke!

Keep It Going: Download Our Stroke Recovery Ebook for Free

stroke recovery tips ebooks with fanned pages (1)

Get our free stroke recovery ebook by signing up below! It contains 15 tips every stroke survivor and caregiver must know. You’ll also receive our weekly Monday newsletter that contains 5 articles on stroke recovery. We will never sell your email address, and we never spam. That we promise.

Discover Award-Winning Neurorehab Tools

ebook with the title "full body exercises for stroke patients"

Do you have these 25 pages of rehab exercises?

Get a free copy of our ebook Full Body Exercises for Stroke Patients. Click here to get instant access.

You're on a Roll: Read More Popular Recovery Articles

You’re Really on a Roll! See how Jerry is regaining movement with FitMi home therapy

My husband is getting better and better!

“My name is Monica Davis but the person who is using the FitMi is my husband, Jerry. I first came across FitMi on Facebook. I pondered it for nearly a year. In that time, he had PT, OT and Speech therapy, as well as vision therapy.

I got a little more serious about ordering the FitMi when that all ended 7 months after his stroke. I wish I hadn’t waited to order it. He enjoys it and it is quite a workout!

He loves it when he levels up and gets WOO HOOs! It is a wonderful product! His stroke has affected his left side. Quick medical attention, therapy and FitMi have helped him tremendously!”

Monica & Jerry’s FitMi review

What are these “WOO HOOs” about?

FitMi is like your own personal therapist encouraging you to accomplish the high repetition of exercise needed to improve.

When you beat your high score or unlock a new exercise, FitMi provides a little “woo hoo!” as auditory feedback. It’s oddly satisfying and helps motivate you to keep up the great work.

In Jerry’s photo below, you can see him with the FitMi pucks below his feet for one of the leg exercises:

FitMi is beloved by survivors and used in America’s top rehab clinics

Many therapists recommend using FitMi at home between outpatient therapy visits and they are amazed by how much faster patients improve when using it.

It’s no surprise why over 14,000 OTs voted for FitMi as “Best of Show” at the annual AOTA conference; and why the #1 rehabilitation hospital in America, Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, uses FitMi with their patients.

This award-winning home therapy device is the perfect way to continue recovery from home. Read more stories and reviews by clicking the button below: