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5 Signs You Need Hand Therapy After Stroke – And How Physiotherapy helps

Experiencing difficulties with hand movement after a stroke is common. Nearly everyone admitted to a hospital because of a stroke is assigned a physiotherapist during their stay. And then referred to an outpatient or home physiotherapist.

But if you’ve completed your prescribed physio sessions but still have some lingering symptoms, what should you do? Wait for it to improve because continuing your post-stroke hand exercises brings improvement over time? Or schedule more physiotherapy sessions?

Keep reading to see when you should restart hand physiotherapy instead of waiting it out and seeing how your signs develop.

1.  Difficulty in Grasping or Holding Objects

After a stroke, you might find it challenging to grasp or hold onto things such as, holding a fork, spoon, or knife, personal care, door knobs, your mobile phone, mugs or remote control. This difficulty often stems from weakened hand muscles or coordination issues. Luckily, these are usually fixable and you can see quick improvements with the right exercises.

How Physiotherapy Helps: Our neuro physiotherapists can design specific exercises to strengthen your hand muscles, improve your grip, and enhance your dexterity.

Watch the video below. Our patient had weakness in his arms and hands. To help him grip things better and hold them while transferring, we gave him this exercise. It’s incredibly simple and you can practise at home, at work, or anywhere else. To do this, move small and lightweight objects from one box to the next. You can practise with heavier objects such as a tennis ball or everyday household items such as your TV remote or your phone to build strength.

Through targeted activities, you can gradually regain the ability to hold and manipulate objects. This does wonders for your independence.

2.  Noticeable Weakness in Your Hand or Fingers

Even if your shoulder, arm, and hand movement is ok and you can hold things fine, your fingers may still have some weakness.

Don’t think that some improvement (such as better arm strength) is enough and that you can compromise on finger weakness. Contact a physiotherapist in London right away so you can strengthen your fingers or learn alternate ways to manage it. Ways

Your weakness can interfere with your ability to perform even simple tasks and hinder your independence.

How Physiotherapy Helps: Through customised strength-training exercises, our neuro physiotherapy services can help rebuild the muscle strength in your hand.

Here’s an example of a strengthening exercise you can do at home: get a resistance band (or a few rubber bands together). Hold the rubber band at the outside of all your fingers and thumb, making a circle. Open and close your fingers. This will strengthen the finger extensors and improve your flexibility.

We begin by assessing your current strength and hand function and then decide how much resistance is okay. Sometimes, each of an individual’s fingers is at a different level of weakness so we design exercises to strengthen each appropriately.

3.  Reduced Range of Motion

A stroke might leave you with a limited range of motion in your hand, restricting your ability to move it freely. A stroke can impact the brain areas controlling motor function. It might result in a condition known as spasticity, where muscles are continuously in a tight position.

This contraction can cause stiffness, limiting your hand’s range of motion.

If you don’t know how to identify a reduced range of motion, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you struggle to open your hand fully to release an object or to receive items? For instance, stretching your fingers to place the hand flat on a table.
  2. Can you close your hand into a tight fist? Are activities such as holding a glass or using a pen challenging?
  3. Are delicate tasks that require precise finger movements, such as buttoning a shirt, typing, or writing difficult for you?

If you’ve answered yes, then you may have a reduced range of motion in your hand. And that can be fixed with physiotherapy.

How Physiotherapy Helps: Physiotherapy interventions to improve range of motion can include stretching exercises and mobility training.

For example, a basic finger stretch:

  • Put your hand on a table and slowly lift your palm off the table, keeping the fingers in contact with the table surface.
  • If you need help, press down on your fingers with your other hand or get someone else to assist you.
  • Hold the position for 10-15 seconds and slowly bring your palm back down.

Over time, these exercises can help you achieve greater flexibility and movement.

4. Numbness or Tingling Sensations

Numbness or a tingling sensation in your hand can be alarming and indicate nerve involvement or circulation issues post-stroke.

This can feel like pins and needles or a sort of “buzzing” under your skin, similar to the sensation you get when your hand “falls asleep.”

It might also feel like you’re wearing a thin glove, with reduced sensitivity to touch, temperature, or pressure. Some people describe it as their hand feeling unusually light, or as if it’s not fully there, making it an odd and sometimes uncomfortable sensation.Top of Form

How Physiotherapy Helps: Physiotherapy can include techniques like nerve mobility massage, heat therapy, and electrical stimulation to improve blood flow and nerve function and reduce numbness and tingling.

5. Difficulty Performing Daily Tasks

If you’re struggling to perform daily activities due to hand limitations, it’s a sign that you might benefit from hand therapy. It’s important to know that you don’t have to live with lifelong movement restrictions. Starting physiotherapy at the right time can do wonders for you.

How Physiotherapy Helps: Our physiotherapists can introduce adaptive strategies and exercises that mimic daily activities, helping you to gradually regain the capability to perform them independently.

Your Next Steps

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s important to take the next step toward recovery ASAP. Engaging in hand therapy with our qualified physiotherapists can lead to significant improvements in your hand function and overall quality of life.

Don’t let these challenges hold you back. Visit us at our clinics in Eltham, Battersea or Norbury and surrounding areas. We can also come to your home for treatment and not only address the physical challenges but also offer hope and a sense of autonomy.