Many people who I meet after stroke are frustrated by the recovery of their arm. They often tell me that they feel it was ignored when they were in a hospital.
It can be difficult to regain movement and then function in your arm. Here are my top 3 things that you can do to promote recovery:
- Keep thinking about movement!
Even if your arm is paralysed, keep trying to move. There is good evidence that thinking about moving, what we call mental practice, is effective in improving muscle activity. You need to do this as you would any other exercise, so give yourself a set number to do and really concentrate on moving.
- Keep your arm flexible
If your arm becomes stiff and/or sore it will be harder to move. Try and keep your arm flexible by placing it in different positions throughout the day e.g. not always beside your body or in a sling. A good position is on a table in front of you, arm turned so it’s slightly out to the side, with a can in your hand (see photo below). If you feel your arm is becoming stiff ask your therapist about some exercises and stretches that may help.
- Start some simple exercises
There are some simple exercises that you can start that make it as easy as possible for the muscles in your arm to start working. Ask your therapist about the exercises you should start with.
I have written a program called the PUSH program that can guide you through some simple arm exercises. A booklet and a video of PUSH is available, the booklet can be found here:
Please contact the clinic for more information about the video.
There is also a technique you may be able to try with your therapist called electrical stimulation. This uses a machine to stimulate the muscles in your arm to help you learn to switch them on again.
So, these are my top 3 tips! Please talk to your therapist about your arm recovery and which of these strategies would best suit you.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Dr. Kate Scrivener