Hand Exercises for Stroke Patients

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  • November 19, 2010

It is the most practical approach to hand recovery after stroke as it can be done at home. It is composed of a range of motions focused on one area, the hand, as with other exercises for stroke patients. Meant to retrain the brain, hand exercises should be done several times a day for mastery and to redevelop coordination.

Here are some hand stretching exercises, arranged sequentially, that you might want to try:

  1. Massage the affected hand with the unaffected hand, beginning with the base of the thumb by the palm, to the tip of the thumb. Repeat for all fingers.
  2. Stretch each finger of the affected hand with the unaffected hand. You could also move each finger of the affected hand in circular motions with the unaffected hand.
  3. Close and open the affected hand, beginning one finger at a time until you form a fist and vice versa. Alternate by closing and opening all fingers at the same time to form a fist and vice versa.
  4. With palms face down on a flat surface, lift thumb and gently return to position. Repeat on all fingers.
  5. With palms face down again, lift hand while bringing each finger tip slowly gliding towards each other to a close. Reverse action. Repeat 5 times.
  6. Stretch fingers as far as you can while palm is faced down on flat surface. Hold in position for 5 seconds. Release. Repeat 5 times.

Once you’re done stretching, here are hand activities to practice your grip and enhance flexibility.

  1. Practice counting with your fingers in sets of 5. From a closed fist, count with the pinky first going to the thumb. Begin the next set of numbers with an open hand. Then close the hand to form a fist beginning with the thumb going to the pinky.
  2. Form the letters of the alphabet using your hand. Also known as finger spelling, here’s a chart you can follow.
  3. Crumple pieces of paper. Throw them all in the air as you would with confetti, such that they fall on the table. Pick each crumpled paper and throw into a trash can as you would in basketball.
  4. Play pickup sticks or pickup objects of various sizes.
  5. Play with a stress ball.

If you had fun with these activities, you may also want to read the book “Hand Recovery After Stroke: Exercises and Results Measurement”, Smits JG, Smits-Boon for more exercises.

Remember, hand exercises should be started gradually and reinforced regularly. Take your time in doing each exercise. Take care not to overdo it, though. Most of all, have fun with the hand exercises while listening to your favorite music.


  • cecile Soucie says:

    thank you for your hand exercise
    i wonder if it is too late for her she has not moved her hand in two months and has a lot of pain that radiates to her ear when she stretches the index and middle finger
    she gets a few exercise a week which to me is criminal
    she is coming home soon and i will take care of her needs
    I do have some good news though
    she is ale to move her tongue around in a normal fashion and can give you a straight smile ear to ear She is swallowing better.
    she has started to move her left leg up with no help and can pelvic tilt and wiggle her hips all around and makes us laugh and that brings attention to her and she wants to demonstrate to everyone that comes

    She is getting acupuncture once a week and neuroaid 3 times a day never missed
    I was able to get the doctor to discontinue the Tarzodone which I am against any mind altering meds and i see the difference in her attitude
    thank you for your responses


    I have dexterity problems with my right hand and only discovered it as I tried to write a letter to someone the other day, also finding it difficult to do fine work with some electronics I am working on, the soldering I find difficult, something I always was very good at before my mini stroke, thanks for the finger exercises I will try to do these several times a day

  • Rugmani Vasudevan says:

    The above exercise my husband is practising daily. It is very much usefull and effective.

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