After an injury to the brain, including a stroke, the muscles of one or both arms can become weak or even partially paralyzed. This happens because the area of the brain that controls these muscles has been damaged.
How to repair?
The problem isn’t in your muscles though, it’s actually the connection between your muscles and your brain! But don’t despair becauswith practice the human brain can often relearn skills and repair itself. This is called neuroplasticity!
Gentle electrical stimulation (Estim) has been used for years in therapy clinics to help retrain the connections between the brain and the body.
A subtle electrical current is sent to specific muscles through small gel pads that emit a “jump start” to remind your brain to focus on using this area of your body.
Repetitive exercises help!
The jump start only works effectively in the long term when combined with targeted repetitive exercises such as those incorporated into the gaming software of the Neofect Smart Glove or Smart Board. Both estim and our Smart Glove can be used at home and are appropriate for many stroke survivors. This is a great way to increase participation in training outside of the doctor or therapists office.
Stroke side effects where Estim can be a helpful tool:
- Spasticity – Many stroke survivors experience some changes in muscle tone that can result in stiff or “stuck” joints. By stimulating the muscles around these stiff areas you can begin to loosen these joints.
- Paresis – Extreme weakness leading to paralysis can be another issue that electrical stimulation can help with. By introducing small amounts of movement to certain muscles, the brain can start strengthening the connections to start moving again.
- Sensory issues – Many stroke survivors also deal with sensory changes like tingling and numbness in their hands or arms. There is some evidence that estim can be helpful for these symptoms as well.
- 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.