Best Hand Exercises for Stroke Patients
Monday, 23 July 2018
Recovering after a stroke is a long and arduous process, and in some cases it can take years for the person to fully recover. Speeding up the process and maximising the patient's chances of a complete recovery, physical rehabilitation is of the utmost importance.
While physical therapists and other healthcare professionals will do their best to help the patient regain their lost motor skills, they are not always available for assistance. Luckily, a lot can be achieved by taking initiative and continuing the process of rehabilitation on your own. Hand movement can be one of the most difficult functions to recover after a stroke, yet hand therapy exercises are also the easiest to practice at home.
Most hand exercises are very simple to learn, but finding the best ones in one place is sometimes a hassle. To help you regain your fine motor skills, we've gathered a diverse range of some of the most efficient exercises and hand movements that require no assistance and can be performed anywhere.
Simple Tabletop Exercises
The following exercises require no special equipment or knowledge, and can be performed on virtually any hard surface. They are ideal for beginners, but can be beneficial at any point during your recovery.
Wrist Extension and Flexion
The purpose of this basic exercise is to help you regain the flexibility and movement of your wrists. Sitting behind a desk or table, place your forearm on the surface, and let the hand hang off the side of the table with the palm down. Bending at the wrist, move your hand up and down for as long as you comfortably can. When you're done, repeat the movement with your palm facing up.
Wrist Bend Movement
Sometimes extending the wrist on its own might still be a bit too demanding, in which case the Wrist Bend Movement can help you out. While sitting down, with the elbow of the affected hand on the table, use your non-affected hand to stretch the other hand at the wrist. Stretch it backward, then forward. Repeat the movement slowly for a total of 5 times.
Finger Curl is the perfect exercise for stretching your fingers. Sitting down, bend your affected arm with the elbow resting on the table. Make little "O" shapes with your fingers by bringing the tips to the tip of your thumb. Start by touching your index finger and thumb and continue with your middle, ring and pinkie fingers, repeating this with all your fingers for a total of 7 times.
Thumb Extension and Flexion
To exercise your thumb, first open up your palm completely, as if signalling the number 5. Continue by moving your thumb over to your pinkie side, as if signalling the number 4. Continue moving your thumb back and forth for as long as you find it comfortable.
Hand Therapy Putty Exercises
If you're looking for something a bit more creative to spice up your recovery, Therapy Putty is just the thing to try out. Non-toxic, non-oily and fun to use, therapy putty is ideal for a wide range of recovery therapies, and the exercises outlined below are just a few suggestions of how to exercise your hands with putty.
The Power Grip is the perfect exercise to help you slowly regain the strength of your hand. Simply grab your putty and squeeze all your fingers into it as hard as you can.
You can regain the strength in your fingers with a simple Finger Spread. Take you putty, stretch it out, and wrap it around two fingers, forming a doughnut shape. Then slowly spread your fingers apart.
The Finger Scissor exercise is equally beneficial to the strength of your fingers. Simply roll your putty into a ball and squeeze it between your fingers. You can work all of your fingers this way, squeezing the putty between two at a time.
The Flat Pinch is the perfect exercise for working out all your finger muscles at once. Use your straightened fingers to pinch the putty down into your thumb.
Why Not Just Use Play-Doh?
Therapy Putty is designed specifically for use during physical therapy, as it can easily be squeezed, stretched, twisted and pinched without the fear of it falling apart. It's non-toxic, non-oily, and designed to be comfortable, so you can rest assured that it won't fragment, separate or stick to the skin. Moreover, it is latex-free so that even patients with latex allergies can easily use it without risk of reaction.
The therapeutic putty is available in six different colours that reflect established standards in resistive exercise, and progress in resistance from "super soft" tan to "extra firm" grey. What's more, clinicians can combine any of the therapy putty's colours to create custom resistance to meet individual needs.