Fine Motor Skills after Stroke
Stroke causes weakness and or paralysis in about 75% of stroke survivors(1). This can cause difficulties with activities of daily living such as getting dressed, eating and bathing. Having to depend on others to assist with activities of daily living can get frustrating but with the correct rehabilitation techniques, considerable progress can be made.
Research has shown that the three most important ways for stroke survivors to recover fine motor skills is performing repetitive hand and arm exercises, performing fine motor control exercises and performing repetitive task specific training exercises.
3 Ways To Recover Hand Motion and Fine Motor Skills after Stroke
1. Repetitive exercises- A stroke causes damage to the brain which can cause one side of the body to have weakness. However our brain has the ability to rewire itself after an injury, this is called neuroplasticity. The principles behind neuroplasticity states that in order for the brain to rewire itself it requires repetitive exercises to be done in order to build new pathways.
2. Fine motor control exercises (AROM)-Stroke survivors tend to present with fine motor control difficulties secondary to either an overabundance of muscle mass or a lack of muscle mass. Research shows that in order to improve fine motor skills, it is important to perform repetitive fine motor control exercises and to utilize the affected hand as much as possible when performing daily tasks.
3. Repetitive task specific training-Researchers have found that in order to improve ones coordination of functional tasks that involves reach to grasp one must perform repetitive tasks that forces them to involve grasp and transport together with a specific emphasis on planning and executing the two components together. (2)
The Smart Pegboard is a modern version of a standard pegboard that you would typically see in a therapy clinic or hospital. The Smart Pegboard lights up and interacts with you providing auditory and visual feedback. The Smart Pegboard allows for a fun way to address all three of the above mentioned approaches. The Smart Pegboard provides repetitive fine motor control activities which requires the use of overall grasp and in hand manipulation. While performing these tasks the client is being forced to involve grasp and transport together with a specific emphasis on planning and executing these two components together to complete each task. The client can choose from different size pegs or shapes to further grade the activity.
(1) Lawrence ES, Coshall C, Dundas R, Stewart J, Rudd AG, Howard R, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of acute stroke impairments and disability in a multiethnic population. Stroke 2001 Jun;32(6):1279–84.
(2) Van Vliet PM, Sheridan MR. Coordination between reaching and grasping in patients with hemiparesis and healthy subjects. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2007; 88(10):1325-1331.
- Becky Alter, OTR/LBecky is an occupational therapist and healthcare content writer based out of Denver, CO.