Female PT assisting an elderly female patient walking between parallel bars during a therapy session.

The rehabilitation journey is important for individuals post-stroke to restore independence and enhance overall well-being. It significantly contributes to a stroke patient and survivor’s physical and cognitive recovery. There are targeted exercises to restore strength, relearn essential skills, and adapt to lifestyle changes.

Dr. Manish Taneja

Stroke Specialist, Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

Post-Stroke Exercise: Accelerating Your Recovery from a Stroke

According to a Medical News Today report, post-stroke exercise can accelerate your recovery. Understandably, you may want to remain sedentary, but that will slow your progress. 

On the other hand, exercise helps reduce muscle spasticity problems, prevents contractures, and improves motor function and range of motion. So, keep reading to learn the best exercises as you prepare for life after a stroke.

Stroke recovery is vital for post-stroke patients’ physical and cognitive well-being. Stroke survivors often face challenges and long term effects where the rehabilitation process aims to enhance their ability to regain independence and improve overall quality of life. Through targeted exercises, occupational therapy, and emotional support, stroke patients can gradually restore strength, relearn essential skills, and adapt to lifestyle, social, and personality changes.

 

Preparing for Exercise

Every year, close to 10,000 Singaporeans have strokes. However, each stroke survivor’s journey to recovery is unique and requires a tailored approach to post-stroke exercise.

Therefore, before delving into gym exercises for stroke patients, it is strongly advised to please speak with a stroke specialist in Singapore and a physical therapist before attempting and performing any of these post-stroke exercises to ensure they are suitable for your individual situation. These experts will assess your capabilities and limitations, ensuring a personalized exercise plan. 

Types of Post-Stroke Exercises

For many stroke patients, the ability to use various parts of the body is often affected. It’s characterized by decreased sensation, coordination, muscle control, weakness, and lack of balance. As such, performing basic daily tasks such as eating and grooming can be challenging.

To aid in recovery, post-stroke exercises target different body parts for maximum effect depending on your type of stroke.

The suggested exercises here offer a general guide and overview. 

1. Stroke Exercises for Arm

Stroke exercises for the hand involve gentle range-of-motion and gripping exercises to enhance mobility and hand function. These include:

  • Shoulder Rolls: Gently roll shoulders forward and backward to improve mobility.
  • Hand Squeezes: Hold a soft ball and squeeze it, working on hand strength.
  • Elbow Flexion and Extension: Sit comfortably, bend, and straighten your elbows, enhancing arm flexibility.
  • Wrist Flexor Stretch: Extend your arm with the palm facing down, gently pulling the fingers towards you for wrist flexibility.

2. Leg, Ankle, and Foot Exercises

Along with mobility, the goal of stroke exercise for the legs is to restore your strength. They include:

  • Seated Leg Lifts: Lift one leg at a time while seated to strengthen thigh muscles.
  • Ankle Alphabet: Write the alphabet with your toes to enhance ankle flexibility.
  • Seated Marches: While seated, lift both legs in a marching motion, engaging core muscles.
  • Toe Taps: Sit on a chair and tap your toes on the floor, promoting ankle mobility.
  • Mini Lunges: Stand, take a mini lunge forward, come back to starting position, and repeat with each leg.  

3. Stroke Balance Exercises

If you find yourself losing balance after a stroke, try the following exercises:

  • Tandem Stance: Stand with one foot in front of the other for improved balance.
  • Chair Yoga: Gentle yoga poses using a chair for support.
  • Single Leg Stand: Stand on one leg with support, gradually increasing the duration.
  • Heel-to-Toe Walk: Walk in a straight line, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other.

4. Aerobic Exercises

With pain and mobility issues, stroke patients and aerobic exercise are not a natural match. However, there are creative ways to enhance your aerobic capacity: 

  • Seated Marching: Sit and march in place to promote cardiovascular health.
  • Water Walking: Walk in a pool to reduce impact on joints while enhancing heart health.
  • Modified Jumping Jacks: Perform seated or standing modified jumping jacks to boost the heart rate.
  • Arm Ergometer Exercise: Use a hand cycle for aerobic exercise while sitting.

5. Gym (Equipment) Exercises

As your recovery progresses, you can proceed to moderate gym exercises such as:

  • Leg Press: Utilize the leg press machine under professional supervision for lower body strength.
  • Resistance Band Pulls: Incorporate resistance bands for controlled arm exercises.
  • Seated Lat Pulldowns: Work on upper back strength using the lat pulldown machine.
  • Leg Curl with Resistance: Strengthen hamstrings with added resistance using the leg curl machine.

6. Mindfulness Exercises

Beyond the physical part of recovery, you should also target the mental side and overall well-being. The following mindfulness exercises will help with this:

  • Deep Breathing: Practice slow, deep breaths to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Guided Meditation: Use guided meditation apps for mental well-being.
  • Body Scan Meditation: Focus on each body part, promoting awareness and relaxation.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Systematically tense and relax muscle groups for overall relaxation. 

Your Guide to Prevent a Second Stroke

Prevent strokes with these lifestyle changes and medical management. Learn the risk factors and how to reduce them in our stroke prevention guide.

Boost Your Recovery with Specialized Stroke Treatment in Singapore

Embarking on the post-stroke exercise journey is a significant step toward recovery. While it may be challenging, the support of loved ones and a specialized stroke clinic in Singapore will help. This is where Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic comes into play. We offer personalized guidance and support to accelerate your recovery from stroke. Schedule a consultation with our stroke specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, to take the next step in your post-stroke recovery journey with our stroke screeningmanagement, and prevention programs.

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Imagine heart attacks where the blood flow to your heart is blocked. Similarly, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to your brain is interrupted becoming a “brain attack”. When blood supply does not reach a certain part, brain cells begin to die. Different types of stroke include ischemic strokes (blockage of blood vessel due to blood clot) or a mini stroke, a TIA (transient ischemic attack), with no permanent damage yet serious. Stroke also occurs when a blood vessel in the brain pops causing bleeding in the brain.

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Neurointerventional / Stroke Treatments

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various neurointerventional / stroke conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our neurointervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.