Stroke rehabilitation exercises for the hand
A stroke is a life-changing experience and significant problems with the hand or hands are commonly experienced by stroke patients.
Without the right support during stroke recovery, these issues can remain for the long-term. One study found that, six months after a stroke, 65% of people with post-stroke hand difficulties could not use the affected hand in their daily activities and tasks.
At Circle Rehabilitation, we’re here to help accelerate your post-stroke recovery. Our multidisciplinary care team will build a rehabilitation programme around your personal needs and aims.
Circle Rehabilitation, Birmingham is ideally placed in the West Midlands for people in Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Stoke, Shrewsbury, Worcester and beyond. We offer residential facilities, so we are poised to help patients from across the UK.
Our rehabilitation programmes are medically-led - your care and rehabilitation is overseen by one of our specialist rehabilitation consultants and physicians.
The hand is extremely complex, capable of very intricate movement and with more precise sensation than almost anywhere else in the body. Unfortunately, this means that there is high potential for problems with your hand after a stroke.
The problems experienced can include weakness in the arm, shoulder or hand, decreased sensation and decreased movement.
When our physiotherapist is working with you to restore hand function, they will begin by giving you a full assessment. This assessment will look at elements such as:
- Proprioception (the knowledge of where your body is)
Some stroke patients will experience a decline in all of those areas within the affected hand, while others may experience a decline in only one or some. Your physiotherapist will expertly assess the extent and severity of any problems with your hand so that they can tailor a treatment and exercise regime just for you.
Neglecting your hand
Our physical therapists and occupational therapists will also look at whether you are neglecting your hand. When recovering from a stroke, it is common for people who are experiencing a weakness or numbness in their hand not to use it as much as they normally would.
In more severe cases a patient sometimes may not realise their hand even exists. The therapy team can work with you to reintegrate your brain and your hand and to gain as much function as possible.
It is important to receive effective rehabilitation for any problems you are having with your hand, as a lack of treatment can cause long term damage, such as a loss of range or motion.
Your hand rehabilitation will be led by a Circle Rehabilitation physiotherapist or occupational therapist. After assessing the extent of any loss of function in your hand, a comprehensive hand rehabilitation exercise programme will be created, tailored specifically for you. This may include:
Your hand, wrist and arm will be expertly moved in certain ways to ensure range of motion is maximised even if you are unable to move them yourself.
Deep pressure can be relaxing and calming, helping the central nervous system to process sensory information. A deep massage of the hand can be useful to stimulate muscles and nerves that may not be functioning as normal.
A change in temperature can have a positive effect on the central nervous system, and often we will ask a patient to place their hand in cooler water then warmer water a number of times. Even in patients who have minimal feeling in their hand, this simple exercise can be of benefit.
We have a number of boxes that each contain a number of different textures. By feeling these different textures with your hand, damaged muscles and nerves can be stimulated.
Therapeutic putty (in different consistencies) can be a good way to improve strength and function in the hands and fingers
A stroke can leave weakness, partial or temporal paralysis in one side of the body. When a mirror is placed between your hands, the reflected image of a moving hand can stimulate different parts of the brain, aiding rehabilitation of the affected hand.
Constraint induced movement therapy
By artificially reducing movement in your non-affected hand, usually by use of a glove, you encourage increased use of your affected hand.
Regaining as much function and movement as possible in the hand is crucial, as it allows you to carry out practical everyday tasks, such as brushing your teeth.
Your rehabilitation exercises will involve a lot of repetition. It is this repetition, even when you don’t feel any improvements, which can help to rebuild function in your hand.
All your exercises will be facilitated and observed by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist to ensure you gain maximum benefit and to make sure there’s always someone there to reassure you you’re on the right track.
If you are struggling to regain your independence or confidence after a stroke, why not seek help from the very best specialists, in the very finest purpose-built rehabilitation centre and with the very best possible care?