How to Improve Fine Motor Skills After a Stroke

Most stroke survivors suffer from weakness or paralysis in some parts of their bodies, typically in their hands. This causes difficulties with daily activities such as eating, getting dressed, and bathing. 

Relying on others for help can be frustrating, but stroke survivors could make significant progress with the right rehabilitation techniques. Exercising and practicing fine motor skills could effectively regain hand coordination, strength, and mobility. This article will look into improving fine motor skills for stroke survivors.

Exercise Putty

When a stroke impairs the brain’s ability to send signals to the arm, exercises such as therapy putty can help promote healing. The more you train your arm, the more your brain recognizes the function and can adapt accordingly. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. Daily therapy putty exercises stimulate the brain and accelerate the rewiring process. The putty comes in various colors to represent its different resistance abilities.

Therapy Balls

Another efficient exercise is the hand therapy ball exercise. It is great for stroke survivors, especially those with weak hands or problems with clenching fists. Hand therapy ball exercise includes squeezing or pinching the ball. This is helpful to people who need to work on strengthening their finger flexors (the muscles that enable flexing of fingers and clenching of fists).

Hand therapy balls may also be helpful for patients suffering from stiffness. Holding the ball with their hands and fingers can stretch tense muscles. In severe cases of spasticity, these patients may need to use their unaltered hands to help the affected hand around the ball.

Table Exercises

Sitting by a table gives you the chance to practice some hand therapy exercises. You can practice various fine motor skills using a variety of household items, such as coins, silverware, paper clips, and pens. 

For example, you can practice picking up a pen, moving it across a table, and releasing it. You can also rotate the pen clockwise and counterclockwise around the table by working with your thumb and index finger. Tracing and writing can also be effective in improving motor skills.

Music Glove

The Music Glove was developed to motivate and promote hand gesture practice at home for stroke patients. It is a sensory glove that helps restore the hand’s functioning. The user needs to perform a specific gesture of a song displayed by an interactive computer game. Proper grip and timing are displayed by scrolling through the notes on the screen. The Music Glove also records the total number of gestures, the percentage of notes “hit,” and the total duration of each song.

Coin Stacking

If you have some spare change lying around, they are good items to assist in therapy exercises. Flip all coins and stack them on top of each other having separate head and tail stacks. This is an easy and effective hand exercise. This exercise will help develop grip, release skills, and careful placement. Coin staking is also great for solving cognitive problems.

Playing the Piano

Many stroke patients find it challenging to get to rehabilitation centers for various reasons. For this reason, they are encouraged to practice playing the piano. Practicing on the piano for an hour a day for three weeks can improve hand function as well as bring pleasure to patients. Patients engage in cognitive processes, and the natural need to move both hands enhances hand function. It also effectively stimulates sensorimotor integration and improves motor function.

Playing Various Games

It is important to remain active during stroke rehabilitation. Physical activity is important, but it is also vital to keep your mind busy. This is where games become useful. The more you stimulate your brain, the more your brain’s natural repair mechanism is activated. This allows you to restore and maintain cognitive function. Therefore, it is important to choose a game that will not overwhelm you and instead offer a fair challenge. You could indulge in chess, Go Fish, battleship, scrabble, checkers, UNO, among other games.

Conclusion

Stroke recovery is not a one-time thing, it is a journey. It takes time and patience to retain your skills and get used to new life. It all starts with the few activities and exercises listed in this article. Remember that the brain is unique, and it continues to heal, learn, and grow. Hand recovery takes time and consistent practice.

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