Posted by: dlip | July 12, 2010

Straightening the hand after a stroke

The other day someone visited this blog. Now that’s not new, I am happy to say that almost every day someone visits this blog. But the referral question was how to straighten the hand after a stroke. A little checking on this wonderful tool – the Internet – revealed the following, garnered form this site:

“Clenched hand problems after a paralytic stroke can be difficult to combat. Due to brain damage caused by certain types of strokes, an adult may return to reflexive hand clenching like that present in infants. If any hand function is to be regained, the brain must be retrained to control the hand. Straightening and manipulating the fingers sends signals to the brain. Repetition will force the brain to notice the stroke affected side of the body and create a new area to replace the area destroyed during the stroke. This new area will gradually take control of the signals it is receiving.

Splints, exercises, electro stimulation, and Botox injections all combat hand clenching. All these therapy approaches attempt to get the brain to recognize and then produce an open hand position. Repetition and duration create brain rewiring, so a stroke victim should carry on with physical therapy and build on any gains.

The return of feeling in an affected hand can be achieved by stimulating the hand repeatedly, also. The palm, generally the most sensitive part of the hand, should be stimulated the most. While holding the hand open, you might gently rub objects with various textures over the entire hand concentrating on the palm and fingers.

Work out a routine with your physical or occupational therapist or even with a caregiver.

Common household items can become effective therapy aids. In our own experiences in regaining feeling in a stroke affected hand, a very soft hairbrush, a bumpy dryer ball, and a fuzzy tennis ball went from household items to effective therapy aids. They also became a part of continuing hand movement therapy as objects to clasp and release.

A new understanding of how the brain works aided by high tech tools has brought about a Renaissance in treatment techniques for hands. New innovations occur regularly. The future holds great hope for a total recovery for a stroke affected hand.”

Having said that, my experience is that the hand appears to have a will of its own. I constantly – during my waking hours stroke and push my left hand, but I find that left to itself it reverts to the clenched fist. A fist of denial. A fist of protest. If anyone can find a way to really “fix” it please post here.



  1. […] Straightening the hand after a stroke July 2010 […]

  2. Thank you for this blog. I have experienced a definite improvement in the fingers of my affected hand through constant flexing of the joints on each finger; doing ten flexes of each joint including the smallest one at the end of the fingers. That and frequent use of squeeze balls has had a good effect. I am still trying to find a solution to straightening my little finger which is locked in a bent position. The third anniversary of my stroke, February 1, 2010 is approaching and I continue to do home-physio type exercises every day as well as a chair aerobics class three times a week. I would like to wish everyone all the best in their stroke recovery efforts. I hope this blog and others continue .
    the best
    Gord S.
    Vancouver Canada

    • Thank you Gord!
      It’s encouragement from readers such as you that helps us to continue to add to this blog, although I must confess that lately we haven’t ben putting much by way of new content here. But now I shall certainly try to do so.

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