If a stroke patient has arm movement but still has residual weakness, arm exercises can be performed with dumbbells or theraband for strengthening. Some strengthening exercises for arms are demonstrated below. One can start with one set of 10-15 repetitions and work up to 3 sets. Please check with your physician or therapist first to see if these exercises are appropriate for you. Discontinue any exercises that cause pain. If you are unable to move your arm or are too weak to do these exercises, go to www.stroke-rehab.com/passive-range-of-motion.html to find simplified exercises.
Hold weight in hand (food cans can be used as well). Keeping elbow straight, raise arm overhead and back down. Repeat 10-15 times. Switch arms and repeat.
Hold weight in hand. Keeping arm straight, lift arm out to side to shoulder height. Return arm to side. Repeat 10-15 times. Switch arms and repeat.
Lean forward slightly, hold elbow up behind you, straighten elbow lifting weight behind you then bend elbow. Repeat 10-15 times. Make sure the elbow stays behind you and that you only move the arm from the elbow down. Switch arms and repeat on other side.
Hold weight in hand. Bend elbow and then straighten elbows. Repeat 10-15 times. Switch to other side and repeat or you can do both elbows at the same time.
Push arms overhead and back down. Repeat 10-15 times.
Holding theraband with hands, start with elbows bent to 90 degrees and against the body. Rotate arms back moving hands out to sides (keep elbows bent to 90 degrees during the movement). Repeat 10-15 times.
Tie one end of theraband to a doorknob. Pull the other end of the band toward the abdomen keeping the elbow at 90 degrees. Repeat 10-15 times.
Hold weights in both hands with elbows bent to 90 degrees. Turn palms up and down 10 times.
Hold one weight in each hand with palms facing downward, elbows against sides, and elbows bent to 90 degrees. Lift wrists up and down keeping elbows still (wrist movement only). Repeat 10-15 times.
Hold one weight in each hand with palms facing up, elbows against sides, and elbows bent to 90 degrees. Lift wrists up and down keeping elbows still (wrist movement only). Repeat 10-15 times.
The above exercises are just some examples of simple arm exercises. Strengthening can be performed in many different ways including using one's own body weight, bars, weighted balls, machines, tubing, and more for resistance. Consult with your therapist to learn other ways to do strengthening activities. Using a personal trainer to learn strengthening exercises is an option as well if given the okay by your physician. To find a personal trainer who has experience in working with clients with health risks or physical limitations, look for a ACSM/NCHPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT). These professionals can be found via a search at the ACSM Pro Finder website (make sure to look for CIFT trainer in search options).
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