More Hope for Stroke Recovery

Stroke survivors with reduced weakness on one side of the body  – as we know – often under use their affected limbs, even if there is still some motor function. This is why, whilst the survivor is still in hospital, I talk to survivors and or their families about the importance for having these limbs in view at all times, along with tips for what we can be doing for ourselves. So you can imagine that when I read an article recognising further help I was naturally excited by it.

I was delighted to read that it acknowledged some things I have been saying; that by not using the weaker side for a long period can only lead to further loss of function.

The small pilot study involved 20 hemiparetic stroke survivors using the ‘Rehabilitation Gaming System’.  This allows the users to control a virtual body via their own movements. It is seen on a computer screen from a first person perspective whilst they perform tasks in a virtual world, so remaining completely safe.

Lead author, Belen Rubio from the Laboratory of Synthetic Perspective Emotive and Cognitive Systems in  Spain said “There is a need to design new rehabilitation strategies that could promote the use of the affected limb performing daily tasks”, something that I personally have been longing to hear for quite some years, hurray to him.

He rightly recognises that people often neglect the remarkable contribution of the stroke patient (I can forgive him here for not using the word survivor); their emotional and psychological states to recovery and this impinges on their confidence.  Oh, how I wish I could meet this man, and be a part of this fantastic way forward, by input I believe, as a survivor and mentor I could impart.

Belen Rubio also said that after enhancement of movement, patients started using their paretic limb more frequently. This suggests that changing patients’ beliefs about their capabilities significantly improve the use of their paretic limbs. Surprisingly as little as 10 minutes of enhancement was sufficient to induce significant changes in the amount of spontaneous use of the weaker limb.

Now, I know many of you maybe feeling this is all well and good, but will we ever have access to such a thing? Personally, I feel it works too in the same way that I promote by using visualisation and self-belief, also working with mirror therapy.  I use other little tips too when I give one-to-one advice, so effectively we are taking back some power, working towards our recovery, without incurring costs. And this study, I believe, highlights the benefits of what we can be doing. You could also possibly play electronic games with your family.

Whichever route you take, I felt only positivity can be taken from such a fabulous study, I hope you agree.

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