We all know how aggressive a stroke can be. After all, it is known as a leading cause of serious long-term disability across the world. It can affect an individual’s arm movement, making it difficult for him to perform simple tasks like moving the arm forward or grasping and releasing objects. Luckily, you can reclaim control of your arm movement and put recovery in your own hands with the help of ‘self-stretching of palm and fingers’.
Hand muscles are often weakened after stroke, mainly due to inactivity. Therefore, it is highly important to focus on basic arm stretching so that the muscle-to-mind connections are built that are often lost after a stroke.
Simple yet effective, stretching of palm and fingers can help you improve the hand mobility as well as strengthen the stroke-affected hand. It can empower you to restore normal function to your arm and do all those things you love, be it cooking or fishing.
Steps to follow
- Sit on a chair with the back of the chair supporting your back.
- Extend your affected hand out in front of you, wrist bent in a palm-up position.
- Keep your back straight and use the fingers of your unaffected hand to gently press and stretch the affected hand’s fingers toward you.
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat it 15 to 20 times during the day.
Self-stretching of palm and fingers can help you break the flexion synergy pattern in the hand. It keeps the finger flexors in an elongated position and stretches them so they do not develop contractures. Stretching prevents muscle fibers from shortening and maintains them at an ideal length, which helps in regaining muscle strength. Self- stretching is also one of the best methods to tackle spasticity in stroke. It certainly helps to reduce pain in the body part involved.
Though self-stretching of palm and fingers is the simplest thing a stroke survivor can do, you can still talk to your doctor or any qualified healthcare professional for reassurance. As a thumb rule, do not overstretch your weak fingers and force your palm beyond a certain point. If you have any pain or discomfort, or a worsening of your symptoms, stop the exercise immediately.
The Last Word
Stroke survivors do not have to assume that their struggle to get back to an independent life is permanent. Stroke can be frightening, but it’s possible to retrain the brain to make up for the damage. All you need to do is keeping the affected muscle groups active. Basic stretching is a starting point to add flexibility and mobility to your affected hand after a stroke. Simple stretching exercises, when combined with a personalized rehab program, can be your best bet to improve arm range of motion and strength. Once you do that, you are ready to begin strengthening hand muscles with advanced exercises.
This Blog is contributed by Dr. Rimpy kanwar. She has more than 8 years of working experience in the field of Physical Therapy. Her expertise lies in ortho-neuro and Pulmonary rehabilitation cases.