Often after a stroke or other neurological injury the recovery process can continue long after traditional rehab and therapy end. Hopefully once you or your loved one returns home you attempt to adhere to a home exercise program geared at maintaining and increasing strength and range of motion. Unfortunately, life can get in the way, even with the best intentions, and self-directed home rehab can be less effective than we would like it to be. Therapists have identified 3 main reasons why your home rehab program isn’t giving you the results you want.
3 Common Reasons Why Your Home Rehab Isn't Working
1. You aren’t clear about what you “should” be doing.
Sometimes we can be overconfident in our knowledge of what exercises to perform, how to perform them and when to change the routine. Without clinical feedback it can be a constant challenge to know if what we are doing is helping or hurting or even making a difference at all. It’s all too common to be using outdated techniques, over/under-challenging yourself, targeting the wrong muscles or simply being poorly positioned during exercise.
2. You aren’t sticking with it
Repetition and consistency are the keys to making progress. Unfortunately, when you are eager to get better it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting to see progress overnight. Many home programs are abandoned because of lack of noticeable progress. Boredom is the other key reason for home therapy abandonment. Patients tend to adhere to home programs that show results and keep them engaged.
3. You aren’t using the right tools
The Brain is the most important tool for neurologic injury recovery. Often people don’t know that they need to engage neuroplasticity to repair the brain - body connections which are affecting their muscle tone, strength and functional capacity after stroke. Neuroplastic changes require you to be alert, engaged, motivated. If you are disengaged, inattentive, distracted, or doing your exercises without thinking it is unlikely that your brain is capable of rewiring broken pathways.
So how can you fix it? Get savvy about what’s out there!
Once therapy ends, you and/or your caregivers may look for programs or products outside of the traditional rehab system to supplement your home programs. Devices such as the Neofect Smart Glove provide an interactive digital environment to modernize and demystify the home rehab process after stroke.
Many of the traditional pitfalls of at home therapy can be avoided with features such as digital progress reports delineating progress with remote monitoring provided by a live therapist. Gamified exercises that maintain engagement in repetitive tasks and optimize conditions ripe for neuroplastic change. With a unique algorithm system the smart glove adjusts the challenge level required in each activity to your personalized skill set in real time, ensuring that you are always working toward neuroplastic changes. Don’t get intimidated by home therapy programs. Start researching and learning about taking control of your recovery.
A Vietnam Veteran who had 3 strokes: Michael Eustace
I went to move and I couldn’t. I moved forward and slid right onto the floor. Started to get a little bit better and then I had another stroke. And then had problems with the heart and wound up having 3 strokes and 1 heart attack.
I couldn’t move my arm, I couldn’t move my hand, I couldn’t do anything. At that point I started to try to get better.
They kept saying, “What is your goal?”
I said my goal is to get up and walk again.
My goal is to get up and use my hand.
For me it was like it opened up a world of things that I could do with my hand, and get more mobility, because it motivates you to do more. You don’t appreciate things that you do before that you can’t do now.
"If it wasn’t for Neofect, I’d probably never bend my hand the way it is now."
- Siena Conde, OTR/LSiena is an occupational therapist and rehabilitation technology and clinical application specialist based out of San Francisco, CA. Siena works for Rally Health as a Clinical Content Manager.