By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
A stroke is the result of a reduced blood supply to the brain due to a clot, hemorrhage, or poor circulation. The amount of function regained depends upon the site and extent of involvement. The recovery of each person is a very individual matter. Special problems can involve partial paralysis on one side of the body, as well as verbal, visual, and neuromuscular dysfunction. Problems are compounded for the person recovering from stroke because of extended recovery time, lack of motion, and inactivity.
When someone has a stroke, rehabilitation is a MUST in order to regain as much function as possible and prevent deformities. It is important to get proximal joints to come back first (shoulder versus hand). The recuperative time after a stroke is often spent sitting in a chair, wheelchair, or in a bed. Because of the extended recovery time and lack of motion and activity, the problems are compounded. FROZEN SHOULDER, FOOTDROP, HAND, WRIST, AND ARM CONTRACTURES can develop, unless gentle exercise becomes a priority every day — several times a day!
As always with any exercise regime, remember no pain! Push yourself to work hard, but never to the point of feeling any pain. Slow gentle movements are the best for your body.
When rehabilitating from a stroke, keep these exercise tips in mind.
• Use functional patterns in the form of diagonals.
(Example: touch right hand to right side of chair, then to left shoulder)
• Do a lot of hands-together work with the affected hand on top of unaffected hand. Clasp affected thumb on top.
• Make use of trunk rotations i.e. chopping.
• Practice shoulder shrugs.
• Release the scapula to mobilize shoulder blade and decrease tonus in arm. (Be cautious of overstretching the stroke-affected shoulder. There may be some loss of sensation in the affected shoulder. Cradle the affected arm at the elbow and rotate to one side, look over shoulder. Then reach under arm and shoulder, walk fingers back and gently release scapula.)
• Walk hips in chair. Start with affected hip.
• Lift hips in chair — side to side.
• Visualize movements — try to do as much as possible.
THE WORK YOU PUT INTO AN EXERCISE PROGRAM TODAY WILL PAY OFF IN AMAZING IMPROVEMENT!