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Recovery Exercises for Stroke Patients

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Rehabilitation exercises are a vital part of rehabilitation for stroke patients. Many types of recovery exercises can be beneficial for stroke patients. Some common examples include aerobic, strength, balance, and flexibility training. These exercises can help improve motor skills and speech and may also help to prevent further strokes. Working with a healthcare professional to create an exercise plan tailored to your individual needs is essential.

Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as you build up your strength and endurance. Be sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or discomfort. Regular exercise can improve your overall health and quality of life after a stroke. 

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most effective exercises for stroke patients. We will also provide tips on how to get started with these exercises. So, keep reading if you’re ready to start improving your recovery!

Why is it so Important to do Exercises for Stroke Recovery?

Stroke recovery exercises are important because they help the brain to rewire itself and improve functioning. Moreover, they can help:

  • enhance blood flow to the brain and aid in the healing process; 
  • prevent depression, which is common after a stroke.

Exercise is significant not only for physical recovery after a stroke but also for cognitive recovery. Research has shown that exercise can help improve memory and thinking skills in people who have had a stroke. Exercise increases a protein called BDNF, which helps promote the growth of new nerve cells and connections in the brain. 

Why is it so important to do exercises for stroke recovery

  • Walking. One of the most common stroke rehabilitation exercises for stroke patients is walking. It helps improve balance and coordination, increasing muscle strength. It is necessary to start slowly and gradually increase the distance as your abilities improve.
  • Exercises also help improve range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Working on a range of motion is a common recovery exercise. This can be done with simple stretching and range of motion exercises. These exercises help to improve flexibility and joint range of motion.
  • Strength training is also a significant part of recovery. It can help to enhance muscle tone, bone density, and cardiovascular health. This is why exercise is so vital for stroke recovery!

Read about the best foods and about diet that prevent stroke in our Lone Star Blog.

25 Stroke Rehabilitation Exercises to do at Home

Stroke rehabilitation exercises to do at home

If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, you should begin rehabilitation exercises as soon as possible. Here are some general tips for starting stroke rehabilitation exercises at home:

  • Choose exercises that are appropriate for your abilities. If you’re not sure which exercises are right for you, ask your doctor or physical therapist.
  • Start slowly and increase the intensity level gradually. Avoid overdoing it, as this can lead to further injuries.
  • Make sure you have plenty of time to rest between sets of exercises. This will help your body recover and prevent fatigue.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your exercise session.
  • Be sure to warm up and cool down for a few minutes before starting and ending your workout. This will help reduce the risk of injuries.

Exercise for stroke recovery should not be associated with pain, especially its intensification. Painful sensations may be present, but they should gradually subside. After a few sessions, the body will get used to the stress, and it will become easier to perform the exercises.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to stroke rehabilitation success! Many stroke rehabilitation exercises can be done at home with little to no equipment. These exercises help improve mobility and function after a stroke.

Here are some simple exercises for stroke rehabilitation you can do at home:

Exercises for Hands

One of the best things you can do to regain function and strength in your hands after a stroke is exercising:  

  1. Hand squeezes: Squeeze a soft ball or stress ball as hard as you can for five seconds. Repeat 10 times on each hand.
  2. Arm curls: Sit with your stroke-affected arm extended straight out in front of you, with your palm facing up. Use your other hand to help lift your affected arm, keeping your elbow straight until your hand is parallel with your shoulder. Lower back down and repeat 10 times.
  3. Fist clenches: Make a fist with your affected hand and hold for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.
  4. Finger spreads: Starting with your fingers together, spread them apart as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this recovery exercise 10 times.
  5. Finger flexion: Use your other hand to help bend your affected fingers into a fist.
  6. Finger lifts: Use your unaffected hand to lift each of your fingers, one at a time, off the palm of your stroke-affected hand. Hold each finger in the raised position for five seconds before lowering it back down. Repeat 10 times on each hand.
  7. Thumb abduction: Use your unaffected hand to lift your affected thumb slightly away from your palm and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  8. Wrist extension: Hold your affected hand out in front of you with the palm facing down. Use your other hand to bend the wrist back as far as possible and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this recovery exercise 10 times.
  9. Wrist flexion: Hold your affected hand out in front of you with the palm facing up. Use your other hand to bend the wrist forward as far as possible and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  10. Elbow extension: Use your other hand to help straighten your affected elbow.
  11. Shoulder shrugs: Gently raise and lower your shoulders, holding each position for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  12. Straighten your arms above your head, and clasp your left wrist with your right one. Lean to the left as much as possible and stretch your right arm a little. In this case, the stiffness of the chest lateral muscles will be felt on the right. Then change your hands. Lean to the right and stretch your left hand. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.

Doing these exercises for stroke rehabilitation regularly can help improve the function and strength of your affected hand. These are just a few examples of exercises you can do to help with your hand rehabilitation after a stroke. For more specific exercise recommendations, please consult with your doctor or physiotherapist.

Exercises for Legs

These exercises are essential for stroke recovery because they can help improve strength, balance, and coordination. This can help people regain their ability to walk and perform other activities independently:

  1. Ankle Pumps: Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Slowly raise your heels as high as possible, then lower them back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
  2. Heel Slides: Sit in a chair with your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly slide your heel up your leg as far as you can, then back down again. Repeat 10 times.
  3. Toe Raises: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise your toes as high as possible, then lower them back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
  4. Leg Lifts: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly lift one leg as high as possible, then lower it back to the floor. Repeat this recovery exercise 10 times, then do the other leg.
  5. Knee Bends: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Slowly bend your knees, lowering your body as far as possible. Then slowly stand back up again. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Wall Sits: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly slide down the wall until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 30 seconds, then stand back up. Repeat 10 times.
  7. Calf Raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Slowly raise onto your toes, then lower yourself back down again. Repeat 10 times.
  8. Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair, then stand back up again. Repeat 10 times.

Exercises for the Body 

They help to improve movement, strength, and function. Stroke rehabilitation exercises can be a long and difficult process, but regular exercise can help to speed up recovery and improve quality of life. Here are some examples:

Arm and leg raises: This exercise helps to improve range of motion and flexibility:

  • Sit or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly raise your arms out to the sides and then back down again. Repeat this movement 10 times. Then, do the same thing with your legs, slowly raising them in front of you and then back down again. Repeat 10 times.

Balance exercises: These recovery exercises help to improve balance and coordination:

  • Try standing on one leg for 30 seconds. If you need to, hold onto a chair or another stable object to help you maintain your balance. 
  • Repeat 10 times with each leg. 
  • You can also try walking heel-to-toe in a straight line. Start by placing your heel just in front of your toes. Take small steps so that your heel touches the ground before your toes do. 
  • Walk 10 steps in this way, then turn around and walk back in the other direction.

Strength exercises: These exercises for stroke recovery help to improve muscle strength and endurance:

  • Try doing sit-ups, push-ups, or squats. If you can’t do these exercises alone, ask someone to help you.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise. 

Range of motion exercises: These exercises help to improve range of motion and flexibility:

  • Try stretching your arms and legs in different directions. 
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. 
  • Repeat the stretch 2-3 times. 

Cardiovascular exercises: These exercises help to improve heart and lung function:

  • Try walking, jogging, or biking. 
  • Start with 10 minutes of exercise and gradually increase the time as you can.

Stroke rehabilitation exercises are essential for stroke recovery, but you should also focus on your overall health and well-being. Following a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are all critical components of stroke recovery.

Tips for Staying Motivated to do Stroke Rehabilitation Exercises at Home

However, it can be challenging to stay motivated to do these exercises at home. Here are some tips for staying motivated:

  1. Set realistic goals. You should set achievable goals, so you don’t get discouraged. Talk to your physical therapist about what kind of goals would be realistic for you.
  2. Make a plan. Once you have set your goals, make a plan for how you will achieve them. Write down what exercises you will do and when you will do them. Having a plan makes it more likely that you will stick to your exercise routine.
  3. Find a partner. Doing exercises for stroke recovery with someone else can make them more enjoyable and help you to stay on track. Ask a friend or family member to join you for some of your sessions.
  4. Be creative. There are many ways to do stroke recovery exercises, so find enjoyable ways. If you don’t like traditional forms of exercise, try things like dancing or swimming.
  5. Reward yourself. When you reach your goals, reward yourself with something you enjoy. This will help to motivate you to keep up with your exercises.

Make an Appointment with Lone Star Neurology Doctors 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what types of rehabilitation exercises are best for stroke patients. However, there are a few general principles that can guide some general principles. First, it is essential to tailor exercises to the specific needs and abilities of  each individual patient. Second, the exercises should be progressive, starting with those that are easier and gradually increasing in difficulty as the patient’s strength and coordination improve. Finally, you should maintain a consistent exercise regime in order to continue making progress.

If you are a stroke patient or caring for a stroke patient, it is necessary to consult with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized rehabilitation exercise program that meets your specific needs and abilities. Lone Star Neurology doctors can help patients recover by providing proper treatments and rehabilitation. We are always ready to provide professional and timely medical care. 

FAQs 

  • How do you rehab a stroke patient?

The rehabilitation process for a stroke patient will vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and situation. But the priority is to help the patient regain as much function and independence as possible. This may involve physical, occupational, and speech therapy. It is also significant to support the patient and their family during this process. 

  • How can I exercise my brain after a stroke?

Some people may benefit from cognitive rehabilitation, a type of therapy that helps people relearn lost skills. Other people may find that activities like puzzles, brain teasers, and memory games help keep their minds sharp.

  • Does exercise help stroke recovery faster?

Many experts believe exercise can help speed up the recovery process by improving circulation and helping the body repair itself more efficiently. Additionally, exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being, which can aid in the recovery process. 

  • Can you fully recover from a stroke?

It depends on some factors, including the severity of the stroke and the individual’s age and health. However, many people can make a good recovery with the help of rehabilitation and support from family and friends.

  • How long does it take to recover after a stroke?

The answer to this question depends on the individual and the severity of the stroke. In general, however, most people will see some improvement within the first few weeks or months. Some people may continue to make progress for up to a year or more. Many factors can affect the recovery process, so working with a medical team is necessary to develop a plan tailored to your specific needs.

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Lone Star Neurology
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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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