Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Task at Hand

I've been told that recovering use of the hand after stroke is "tricky." When I question occupational therapists that I like and trust about my prognosis, their faces become shielded and their speech careful. Almost two years into recovery, I appreciate why predictions in a case like mine are unwise. So much depends on my willingness to perform hours and hours of boring, demoralizing exercises.

The 4 1/2-minute film below shows me performing my current hour-long exercise routine. I've edited the long pauses required to unclench my fingers after each effort to use them. The routine is a variation of grasping and releasing POOF balls, which I've done almost every day for the past 20 months. If you find the film tedious, then it's a good representation of what it feels like to rehabilitate my hand. Progress is agonizingly slow.

But I am making progress. I think back to three months post-stroke when, summoning all my concentration, I could just twitch my middle finger. Still I want more.

I've been reluctant to write about rehabilitating my hand. Writing brings clarity and I haven't wanted to look too closely at the hope and dogged determination that keeps me going. I fear not recovering my hand. I fear being foolish for continuing to try past the point of progress. That point hasn't come yet, but as I approach my two-year anniversary, I feel an urgency to push myself to the next level of achievement.


  1. Hurrah! That looks beautiful - and not boring at all. Your patience is inspirational.

  2. I am impressed how high you can get your arm and the use of the hand without the Saebo. Great determination shown.

  3. Work like that could NEVER be foolish Marce, it's nothing short of heroic -I'm so proud of you X

  4. Thank you for posting this video Marcelle. It is very uplifting to see you work on your hand. You look so determined and focused as you are doing the exercise, but the second you have completed it, you get the largest grin. It's amazing!

    Keep pushing yourself. I always "try" to focus on how far I've come since having the stroke. Like you, I want more, too. The patience that stroke recovery requires is...frustrating. You will never be foolish if you keep trying.


  5. Your journey is such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. You're not foolish!! I also remind myself that it's not just the hand. I think that any improvement of symmetry (strength, coordination, etc) benefits the whole body.

    As I watched the video, my right (affected) hand kept twitching. My motor neurons must have been firing!