therapeutic activities help to address more specific
aspects of fine motor skills deficit, like addressing
specific grasps such as a lateral pincer grasp, which
you use when turning a key, or a dynamic tripod
grasp, which allows you to hold a pen.
• Many fine motor skill deficits involve muscle weakness.
Therapeutic exercise can help. Performing bicep curls
or chest presses and using free weights to build strength
and muscle are examples. This helps maintain current
strength and/or create gains in strength.
• Neuromuscular electrical stimulation involves using
a device that delivers electrical impulses to nerves
causing the muscles to contract. The goal is to regain
movement and strength.
• Massed practice is long sessions with a lot of
repetition performing a specific task, like stacking
cones, during a specific interval of time. The idea
being that “practice makes perfect.”
• Constraint-induced movement therapy: Based on the
principle that movement in the affected hand or arm
can be strengthened and increased by constraining
the unaffected hand: a mitt on the “strong” hand,
forces use of the affected hand. By focusing the use
of the recovering hand or arm, constraint-induced
movement therapy helps prevent “learned non-use,”
which occurs when survivors prefer their unaffected
hand to do things.
After rehab, it is important for survivors to keep doing
things that encourage fine motor skills, like dressing and
feeding, as independently as possible. Therapists also
provide home exercise programs so survivors can use the
skills and activities learned in therapy in their everyday
routines. It is important to make every hour of the day
count. These home exercise programs help maintain the
gains made in therapy that enable survivors to become as
independent as possible.
When fine motor skills are taking time to recover, an
OT can also help find ways to compensate to encourage
independence and function. It is important to find ways
for a survivor to be successful in their everyday lives
recovery process. There
are hundreds of tools
and strategies that can
be used to compensate
for impaired fine motor
skills; here are some
This piece of adaptive
equipment lets the
survivor hold a pen,
an eating utensil, a
toothbrush or other
objects despite a
lack of strength or
coordination in the
hand. The universal
cuff wraps around
the hand just below
the fingers and has an
insert where the object
can be placed.
Assists a person with
only one useful hand
in putting on a sock
without having to reach
down to their foot.
Allows a survivor to button a shirt with only one hand.
A person’s home can also be adapted to allow more
accessibility. Things as simple as changing a door knob or
a handle on a cabinet can enable a survivor to open doors
and lessen the need for assistance at home. Independence
can be achieved in many ways, and it is our goal as
occupational therapists to ensure that stroke survivors can
live life to the fullest.
It is important to find ways for a survivor
to be successful in their everyday lives
throughout their recovery process.