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Regaining Hand Flexibility & Strength in Stroke Rehabilitation

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Many senior stroke survivors experience a decline in motor skills, specifically in the hands and arms, which makes activities of daily living difficult or impossible to complete. Fortunately, with the right hand and finger exercises, senior stroke survivors can create new neural pathways in the brain to reactive muscles affected by the stroke.

To help first time or inexperienced family caregivers provide quality support to their loved ones, Home Care Assistance of Fairfield, CT wanted to share a few exercises that can help restore hand function and improve flexibility and strength among senior stroke survivors.

Flexibility

To facilitate movement, begin your loved one’s exercise session with hand and finger stretching to promote overall flexibility.

  1. Massage – Put a dime-sized amount of lotion in your loved one’s palm. He or she can then gently massage the lotion along each finger, from the base to the tip.
  2. Fist and Open – Have your loved one make a fist. Then open his or her hand, one finger at a time. Perform this sequence three times.
  3. Finger Walk – Have your loved one make a peace sign with his or her hand, and then direct their hand so their index and middle finger are pointing down. Then, have your loved one walk his or her fingers across a table or flat surface.

Strength

When it comes to regaining strength in the hands and fingers, the natural tendency is to use the unaffected side. However, this prevents the stimulus needed to prompt nerve regeneration. Our experienced stroke caregivers recommend that you encourage your loved one try to perform activities with both hands.

  1. Folding – Fold paper in half and then in quarters, pressing on the edges after each fold. Construction paper is often preferred for this exercise because of its thickness.
  2. Cutting – Have your loved one use a pair of blunt scissors to cut through objects of different densities. Follow the sequence below as your hand gets progressively stronger.
  • Thin paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Construction paper
  • Magazine subscription cards
  • Straws
  • Play-Doh
  1. Crumpling – Seniors should scrunch five sheets of scratch paper with both hands. Then pitch them into a waste basket.
  2. Wringing – Twisting a wet washcloth can promote strength in both of your loved one’s hands at the same time.
  3. Hanging Clothes – Incorporate exercises in to your loved one’s daily activities and have them help with laundry by attaching clothes to hangers with clothespins.
  4. Resist a Rubber Band – Loop a rubber band around the knuckles of your loved one’s thumb and fingers on the outside of your hand. With their palm facing up, have them open their hand, pushing their fingers against the rubber band. This exercise improves hand control.

Celebrate each accomplishment that your loved one makes, even the smallest twitch of a finger. With practice, your loved one’s brain will create accessory circuits, improving overall hand function.

For more information about caring for a senior stroke survivor, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Fairfield today. Our highly trained Fairfield stroke caregivers are available for both hourly and live-in care and can assist with recommended therapy exercises, daily activities, personal care, transportation and so much more. Call 203-955-1915 and schedule your complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly and experienced Care Manager.