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7 Tips to Overcome Challenges and Stay Motivated With Hand Therapy After Stroke

Hand therapy post-stroke can be a long and tiring process. It’s natural to get tired and lose hope when your process is slower than you want or too energy-demanding. But that’s exactly what you can’t afford to do.

The rehab process is a juggling act— it requires patience, consistency and precision. With the right home physiotherapists by your side, you can overcome challenges with hand therapy much more easily and continue progressing.

In this blog, I’ll share simple practical strategies to maintain your motivation and stick to the program especially when physiotherapy gets too challenging.

1.  Set Realistic Goals

Most of my patients get impatient because they expect to be back to their habitual hand function within a few days of starting hand physiotherapy for stroke.

It helps to set realistic goals with them.

How can you do it? Understand your baseline first. Many factors influence how quickly you can expect results. These can be the type and intensity of the stroke, how long after are you starting therapy, how often you exercise, the kind of treatments and modalities your neurological physiotherapist is using, and so on.

Work with your physiotherapist to assess your current hand function and establish clear, achievable goals. Ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART).

Then, divide larger goals into smaller, manageable ones to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to track progress more effectively.

2.   Celebrate the Small Wins

Acknowledge your improvements no matter how minor they may seem. Every bit of progress is a step forward in your recovery. You should take pictures or videos of your progress so you can see how far you’ve come.

Proudly share your success and achievements with your physiotherapist, family, or support group. I’ve seen it boost morale and increase compliance with the rehab regimen.

Reward yourself for reaching your milestones. I encourage my patients to do something they love doing but haven’t done in a while because of their stroke.

You may be surprised how incredibly motivated you’ll feel after engaging in activities that make your heart happy. It may be something as simple as watching the ducks in Hyde Park or having tea with your favourite people.

3.  Stay Engaged by Changing Your Exercises

Don’t let yourself get bored of hand therapy after a stroke.

Choose a physiotherapist who understands the importance of keeping things fresh to help you stay engaged and have fun. You can use music, games, or art-based activities to make the rehabilitation process more enjoyable and less monotonous.

I’m a big believer in choosing exercises that mimic your daily activities because I’ve seen the best results with this approach.

Whenever I can, I focus less on traditional exercises and directly involve my patients’ hands in practical tasks. This enhances the sense of purpose and progress. And is the most practical way to do hand rehab after a stroke.

4.   Acknowledge Frustrations

Recognize and accept the frustrations as a natural part of the recovery journey. Remind yourself that recovery takes time, and it’s okay to have good days and bad days.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust. Be open to modifying your therapy techniques or routines if certain activities become too frustrating or less effective.

5.   Leverage Support Systems

You’re not meant to walk the hand recovery path alone. Involve your loved ones in your recovery process. They can offer encouragement and assistance when physiotherapy gets too hard.

You can also benefit from connecting with others who are undergoing similar experiences. It provides mutual encouragement and gives everyone opportunities to share useful tips to help one another.

Your home physiotherapist is also a big part of your support system because you spend so much time with them during your rehab. Choose your physio carefully and maintain open communication so they know how to support you best.

6.  Track Your Progress

Keep a daily or weekly log of your exercises, achievements, and how you feel, helping you to see how far you’ve come. You can do this in writing (journalling), videoing, or keeping a photo album on your phone.

Charts and graphs that visually track your improvements in hand function over time can be super helpful. They provide a clear picture of your progress and can lift your mood on bad days.

7.  Find Your ‘Why’

Identify personal reasons and motivations that drive your hand recovery after stroke; it could be as simple as wanting to hold a cup of tea independently. This will come in handy when physiotherapy gets too hard or when don’t want to hear any more positive words or “you can do it” statements. 

Create a visual representation of your goals and inspirations to keep you focused and motivated.

For example, put up pictures of your favourite activities, loved ones, or of yourself doing something you love so you can be reminded of what you’re trying to achieve. 

Keep reflecting on your progress by regularly reminding yourself of the progress you’ve made and how each step brings you closer to your ‘why’.

Your Next Steps

As you know, hand therapy isn’t easy. Having a supportive and competent neurological physiotherapist in your corner can help a lot.

If you want to start your personalised hand therapy program after a stroke in London, get in touch with our physios clinics in Eltham, Battersea or Norbury.