Wrist and Hand Movement After Stroke

What Every Stroke Survivor Should Know About Hand and Wrist Movement

If you or someone you care about is recovering from a stroke, keeping an eye on how your hands and wrists are resting, moving and feeling is critical. Here’s why.

On their recovery journey, many stroke survivors develop issues with movement, mobility and general positioning of their hand or wrist due to damage to parts of the brain that control specific muscles in the body. The impact that brain damage can have on muscle control is called spasticity, and it’s something that 30% of stroke survivors experience. 

While spasticity may not be painful or even very noticeable in some cases, when left unaddressed, the hand or wrist can deviate over time from a normal functional position. The range of motion in the joints in the hand or wrist may diminish causing a closed fist and flexed wrist, and this can become increasingly difficult to correct. When range of motion is negatively impacted, it can become difficult to complete important daily tasks like hand washing, nail trimming and even getting dressed. 

What Can Be Done?

A simple brace called a Wrist Hand Orthosis (WHO) can address hand and wrist issues following a stroke. This type of brace helps to hold the hand and wrist in their optimal position and apply a comfortable stretch to the joint to help counter the effects of how the stroke has impacted the muscle. That simple stretch prevents the joint from becoming tighter and losing any more range of motion.

How Do I Know If I Need A Brace?

The biggest clue that you might need an Wrist Hand Orthosis is if you are having trouble maintaining the position of your hand and wrist that is leading to difficulties in doing your daily activities. Also, if you are already doing daily stretching or physiotherapy exercises and they don’t seem to be making a difference, this could signal that a brace might be beneficial. 

A simple test to see if you are experiencing a loss in range of motion in your wrist or hand is to try to move both arms, hands and wrists in the same way. If the hand, wrist or arm on the side of your body that has been impacted by the stroke isn’t able to move in the same way as the unaffected side, it may indicate a loss in range of motion. 

What Should I Do If I Think I Need A Brace?

PBO Group offers free first appointments, where one of the Certified Orthotists at our St. Catharines, Barrie, Owen Sound or Peterborough clinics will complete a full assessment to determine if a brace is the right solution for you. Book a complimentary appointment here.

How Much Will The Brace Cost?

Brace prices vary, but depending on the type required, your brace may be eligible for full coverage through your private insurance plan or up to 75% coverage through OHIP’s Assistive Devices Program. As part of your initial appointment, PBO Group staff will provide an estimate for the cost of the device to allow you to check with your insurance provider.

Can’t I Just Buy A Brace Online?

While there are braces available for purchase online, these off-the-shelf solutions aren’t always the right choice. The type of brace you need will really depend on your unique situation. In many cases, our staff may recommend an off-the-shelf brace but then use their expertise to ensure the proper adjustments are made to ensure it’s comfortable and providing the right support for your needs. 

Read some of our other articles that have important information for stroke survivors:

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