Activities For Stroke Patients At Home
I’m Nancy, a physiotherapist who has worked with many stroke patients helping them achieve their goals and ambitions. Here I have put together some fun ideas of activities for stroke patients at home, all with great therapeutic benefits.
I hope that you will be inspired to try something new with your parent or friend. It can be really hard when you are unable to do your hobbies as you usually would but there is often a way where you can still be involved and enjoy them. See this is an opportunity to start something new!
Exercise After Stroke
As we all know, exercise has many benefits. Exercising after a stroke can seem daunting, but with the right exercises, support, equipment and attitude it can be extremely rewarding and gains can be made even many years after a stroke. Here’s some great ways that I find useful to encourage exercises for stroke patients.
Online Stroke Exercise Class
LEGS (Local Exercise Groups for Stroke and Neuro Conditions) is a charity for stroke survivors offering supported exercise groups led by physiotherapists for people who have had a stroke or live with a neurological condition.
Their fun and functional stroke exercise classes are for all abilities and they tailor the exercises to help you achieve your goals.
Exercising At Home
Every physio loves a goal, and this is key to exercising at home.
Set yourself some small goals to work towards, tell someone else your goal or make a joint goal – you will be more like to to stick to it this way! The key is to choose something you enjoy or that you can see the purpose of doing the exercise. This way you will be able to keep your motivation up.
Remember you don’t have to be doing exercises to exercise! Going out for a walk, weeding the garden or some housework can all provide exercise.
For example, say you want to be able to walk around the local park with a walking stick in two months. You may set yourself a target to leave the house every day to help you achieve your goal. To make sure you actually do this, you might decide to:
– Only to buy milk in small containers form the local shop
– Post a letter every Monday and Friday
– Take a different photograph each day to send to your goal buddy
You will need to gradually look to increase the distance you walk in order to reach your goal but you can practice in many ways! You could even just start in your house, for instance for each time you need to go into the kitchen you could walk into the living room first or do a lap of the garden.
An exercise bike can be a brilliant way to improve your cardiovascular fitness as well as your lower limb strength. Be sure to choose the right one for you and that you can get on and off it safely.
Or if space is at a premium, an exercise pedaller can also improve muscle function and get the heart pumping. Low impact, it can be used to train the legs or be placed on a table to work the arms.
Taking it further you can get bikes that link to screens to give you the feeling of being outdoors on different rides which can spur you on and make it more fun.
If you need help knowing which stroke rehabilitation exercises to do or how to get started, a physiotherapist will be able to help you exercise safely. You can access physiotherapy though your GP or look for private options through the CSP Physio2U or contact myself if you live in Oxfordshire.
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Creative Activities For Stroke Patients
Art For Stroke Patients
Painting can be very therapeutic and also very frustrating after a stroke, however it is possible to find a new style and approach.
Broadcaster Andrew Marr credits painting as playing a vital role in his physical therapy for stroke recovery. He has progressed to using both hands and standing upright at an easel for hours thanks to regaining his standing balance.
If you’re looking for art projects for stroke patients that are more accessible then I recommend looking at this Foraged Art book, very much in the style of Andrey Goldsworthy for some inspiration. The focus of this crafting is to make beautiful pictures through arranging objects in patterns.
Wheelchair Accessible Art Easel
I love coming across innovative and helpful tools for a one-handed person or people in a wheelchair. There’s a fantastic charity called Demand who design and manufacture for people with disabilities. They produce an easel called a Freasel where you can paint from a wheelchair or bed with the world’s most adjustable artist’s easel.
For a more low cost option and for those with less complex needs, this table easel can be a good alternative for some art therapy. After all, art isn’t just about the output, but also gives people a focus and a positive outlet for their mental health.
One Handed Crafts For Stroke Patients
Don’t be put off if you only have good use of one hand. There are still plenty of easy craft activities for stroke patients, here are some examples:
All you need it some plain paper, paint and your fingers! Get creative with your design – can you write a name, draw a house or an animal?
Keeping between the lines is harder than you think, especially if you don’t have use of your other hand to keep it in place. Pick up a gel pen and get involved. Choose your design – whether you want to colour in something that will delight your grandchildren, or choose a more complex grown up pattern (adult coluring books are very popular as a mindfulness tool now).
Colour By Number
Your painting will come out picture perfect, guaranteed! Precision is required here to ensure you’re painting the correct numbered section. If your parent’s at the start of their painting journey on their recovery, they may benefit from water painting to get a handle on the paint brush and strokes.
Folding card, cutting pieces of different coloured paper and sticking photos or gems will exercise the muscles and produce something to be proud of.
These non-slip mats are a really useful but simple piece of equipment to help hold your art project in place.
And if you are feeling really ambitious here is a video clip of a potter making a bowl with one hand!
If you fancy trying this creative activity, you can purchase a potters wheel for at home – after all, all sorts of things are possible!
Cooking After A Stroke
Cooking after a stroke can be a challenge particularly if you only have the use of one hand or find it difficult to read and follow recipes. Cooking can also be very rewarding and fun as a way to practice many different skills from working on your balance reaching for ingredients to building up arm and hand strength with activities such as beating eggs and kneading bread. So find a safe way to give cooking after a stroke a go.
There are many different kitchen aids to help with one handed cooking. Here is probably the most useful below. An innovative chopping board which allows you to skewer what you want to chop and a vice to hold other items.
One Handed Cooking Techniques
There are many one handed cooking techniques that can be learnt and practiced. It may be worth you consulting an occupational therapist to advise you on the best techniques and aids in the kitchen for your individual circumstances.
Here is Rosanna Radding who has been cooking effectively with one hand for many years and has developed her own board and extensive collection of videos showing its use. Have a look to be inspired as to the possible ways and methods people have adapted allowing them to still cook one handed very well.
Start off with some easy recipes while you get used to being back in the kitchen. Good Housekeeping offer a selection of three ingredients recipes where you can watch a demo video too. This is one of my favourites, Peanut Butter Cookies. Or you could try up a level with Jamie Oliver’s ‘5 Ingredients’ recipe book. Jamie prides himself on accessible recipes and none more so than these ones here, with only five main ingredients. His roast tikka chicken is a real crowd pleaser, believe me!
Gardening is not only an excellent form or exercise offering opportunities to work on balance, strength and arm function. It is also very rewarding and being closer to nature can also improve our sense of wellbeing.
Indoor Gardening Projects
There are many indoor gardening projects you could try if your mobility makes being outdoors difficult. Learning how to create terrariums can be one – find out how to make a terrarium with this book.
Even just growing herbs on your windowsill or watching and waiting for a wonderful amyrillilus to bloom on you kitchen table is an idea too.
An easy way to get gardening indoors is to try some kits where everything is there ready for you to get going! There are many from Bonsai Trees to chillis – as I like spicy food, I think this grow your own chillis kit is great.
Helpful Tools For A One Handed Person
There are many different gardening tools and tips to making gardening easier. If you’re looking for one handed gardening tools then check out these single handed shears and a one handed wheel barrow.
Raised bed are probably one of the most useful garden features for people with limited mobility, so you could look at adding some to your garden. Also look for plants and shrubs that don’t require too much care.
Cognitive Activities For Stroke Patients
Stroke survivors can experience many different types and severities of cognitive difficulties. Here are some examples of activities for stroke victims to enjoy while working to improve their cognitive function such as memory, visual spatial awareness and word finding.
Puzzles For Stroke Victims
Puzzles are a fun and accessible cognitive game for stroke survivors. There are many different levels available. At ElWell, we’re big fans of the specialist puzzles created by Relish, such as this 35 piece jigsaw puzzle. It comes in loads of picture options, and the pieces are well made and large enough to be easily picked up.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles to challenge even the most able person working on concentration, sttention and visuospatial awareness. Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles come highly recommended.
Free Online Jigsaw Puzzles
Don’t have the space for a large jigsaw puzzle (they can cover tables for days can’t they?!). Then an online jigsaw puzzle is for you. I use Im A Puzzle with my patients, allowing them to easily access puzzles for free – I love it! Choose from a host of designs (landscapes, animals etc) and difficulty rating (9 piece jigsaw puzzles up to 50 pieces). Or you can even customise a puzzle with a picture of your choice. An easy way to work on cognitive function from the comfort of home.
Memory Games For Stroke Victims
Use fun memory games to help improve memory such as:
- Matching pairs of cards
- Simple games like trying to remember what items are on a tray then someone takes one item away and see if the other person can remember what is missing!
Brain Games for Stroke Rehabilitation
Scrabble, word searches and Boggle are all good for working on word finding skills. This big letter Bananagrams is a big hit too, and being the size of a big banana, it doesn’t take up much space at home! The tiles are larger than the average game, making them easier to pick up for people who are working on their hand dexterity.
Online card games can be a good alternative to traditional methods especially for those living alone. It’s all great for cognitive rehabilitation.
Online Cognitive Activities For Stroke Patients
Reading And Poetry For Stroke Survivors
Reading or being read too can also be a great cognitive activity for stroke patients. Interact is a stroke support charity that supports stroke survivors either through hospital visits, online group sessions, individual online sessions or telephone calls. Actors read stories and short poems during these sessions aim to stimulate stroke recovery of language and memory as well as offer companionship and a bit of fun. Well worth a go you can visit the Interact website here.
Online bridge can provide cognitive stimulation and be great fun especially for those who aren’t very mobile and are unable to get out to local groups and classes easily. Bridge Base has been recommended to me by stroke survivors and is a social platform too. Check it out here.
Hobbies For Stroke Survivors
There are many different hobbies open to us all and it’s also important not to give up on old hobbies straightaway – there may be new ways you can do or be involved in your old activities after stroke.
It might be that you need to adapt them, approach them in a different way or maybe simply support others to do them with your expertise.
Want to learn to play one handed guitar? Check out Indie Dirk offering lessons on YouTube.
As Indie shows, there are so many opportunities with online courses and classes.
One activity that stroke survivors may find particularly useful if they have language difficulties may be a simple touch typing course. Touch Type Read And Spell offers this to adult learners, it’s recommended for people with stroke and language difficulties.
In short, don’t be put off or afraid to try new ways of doing old hobbies or just having a go at something new.
Meet Other Stroke Survivors
Meeting other stroke survivors whether through a online platform such as the neuro cafe from stroke charity LEGS or chatting over the phone can be extremely reassuring to know that you are not alone. It also offers a great way to share experiences and expertise as well as celebrate the wins and come to terms with the losses.
The Legs neuro cafe is an online, informal, education and discussion session held every Wednesday. They have a blog which gives you a good idea of the types of themes in the sessions they run, take a look here.
The Stroke Association has My Stroke Guide, an online community allowing you to connect with others for advice, information and support.
The Stroke Association also offer a Stroke Helpline. The Stroke Helpline is a place for information and support. If you or someone you know has been affected by stroke, or you want to know more information on how to reduce your risk of a stroke, please get in touch.
Summary Of Activities For Stroke Patients
I hope I have given you some interesting and fun ideas for activities and inspired you to have a go. This is by no means an exhaustive list and if you know of any activities you feel should be included please get in contact, we would love to hear from you.
If you are reading this for someone else I have also written an article on Gifts for stroke patients which I think you will find interesting.
There are many activities for stroke patients with great therapeutic benefits that can be done at home. For instance specialist online exercises classes for all level, cooking, creative arts and crafts and gardening activities to name a few. Read our article to get some more ideas.
There are lots of great ways to work on cognitive function for example:
Crosswords and word searches
Activities where you are required to follow instructions such as cooking, building models etc
Read our article to get some more ideas.
Don’t give up on old hobbies straightaway – there may be new ways you can do or be involved in your old activities after stroke. It might be that you need to adapt them, approach them in a different way or maybe simply support others to do them with your expertise. Be creative.
Online exercise classes
Cooking after stroke
Meeting other stroke survivors online
Read our article to get some more ideas.
The best activity for stroke rehabilitation will depend hugely on how the person presents. For example dancing, gardening, Tai Chi will all be great activities to work on balance but word searches, memory games, crosswords and Suduko will all be great for cognitive functions. The trick is to choose the right activity for the person.
Read our article to get some more ideas.