With repetition as one of the main keys to improving movement, it’s important to consider creative ways to incorporate repetition into your daily rehabilitation routine. Using virtual reality rehab devices such as the Neofect Smart Glove and Neofect Smart Board can increase repetition 10x (250-300 repetitions) in the same amount of time as an outpatient therapy session (32 repetitions).
Here are four other ways that you can work on incorporating more repetition into your daily rehabilitation routine:
Consider functional things that you can do with your affected side. Even if it seems insignificant, something like using your affected side to turn on and off a light switch or open the fridge every time you do it, reinforces voluntary repetition. This idea of “forced-use” helps to reorganize the brain and recreate pathways to improve motor control. Additional repetition of functional movement can be added to your routine at home by using the Neofect Smart Glove or Smart Board. Virtual reality solutions like the Neofect Smart Rehab devices can encourage 10x more repetitions than traditional therapy sessions alone.
Get out of the habit of moving your affected side with your “good” or non-affected side. For repositioning needs, try to move the side affected by the stroke on its own first before jumping in to “help”. It’s really easy to fall into “learned non-use” where your brain starts to forget about your affected side based on avoiding it as part of your daily routine. Force it to do as much active work as you can on a daily basis.
Visualization has been proven to be an effective technique for motor improvement, even if you don’t have the functional movement to do the task itself. Visualization has long been used by high level athletes as a tactic for working toward maximizing their performance. For individuals that have had strokes, visualization of a particular activity such as raising the arm or leg, sends blood flow to the area of the brain responsible for that motion, activating that area.
Mirror box therapy can also be effective in using the mirror neurons of the brain to trick the brain into thinking that the affected side is moving in a normal manner. In a review of studies on mirror therapy compared to other interventions, mirror therapy was shown to have a significant effect on motor function as well as pain and visual neglect.
Lang, Catherine E et al. “Observation of amounts of movement practice provided during stroke rehabilitation.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation vol. 90,10 (2009): 1692-8. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2009.04.005