Nearly 75% of stroke survivors have difficulty with hand and arm movement after stroke and only about 20% experience some functional recovery in the first 6 months. Focus on upper extremity exercise, particularly during inpatient rehabilitation, is surprisingly low. In our previous post on therapy dose, we discussed the importance of greater intensity. When it comes to upper extremity exercise and therapy, it seems that more is better for functional outcomes.
Another way to increase therapy dose is to apply an exercise program like the GRASP program that can be easily self-administered and is flexible enough to work with a range of impairments. When started early on after stroke in an in-patient setting, four weeks of GRASP training improved arm and hand function compared to an education program. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) can increase the dose of functional training. Modified protocols are available to increase patient tolerance. Talk to your therapist to see if these exercise and activity approaches would be a good fit for your needs.
It’s also important to start moving EARLY when the brain is primed to re-wire and re-organize itself. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to find alternative pathways for the area of the brain that was damaged due to a stroke. If we were able to encourage an intensive therapeutic program early in stroke or brain injury recovery, using a Smart Rehabilitation Solution like the RAPAEL Smart Glove or Smart Board, it is likely that we could improve motor function by taking advantage of the brain’s plasticity through repetition.
Post stroke depression is a common after effect of stroke for many individuals. Depression has been found to have negative effects on functional recovery. Physical exercise may help in providing a supportive treatment for depression. It has been found that those that are able to manage post-stroke depression have greater functional outcomes as well. The take away, exercise can assist in the management of depression and prolonged depression can keep a stroke survivor from making the fullest recovery possible.
Move early and often as you plan your exercise program after stroke! Our Smart Glove and Smart Board packages come with clinical support to allow you to maximize your use of our devices for your continued rehabilitation! As you look at different options for your stroke recovery, our Smart Rehab Solutions may be a good fit for your needs, call us to discuss your individual rehabilitation goals: (888) 623-8984.
- The future of stroke rehabilitation: upper limb recovery ACNR (add citation)
- Winstein, et al. (2016). Guidelines for Adult Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery