​Stroke may result in paralysis to one part of a person's body. Despite paralysis, movement is still important to minimise risk of skin breakdown, contractures and chest complications.

Here are some examples of upper limb exercises for stroke patients.

Shoulder: Support the affected arm with one hand under the elbow and the other hand under the wrist. Lift the arm forward and upward towards the patient's head as far as you can. Hold for 20secs. Do not pull the arm or force a stiff joint. Always watch for pain.

Next, bring the arm outwards away from the patient's body. Hold for 20secs.

Elbow: With one hand supporting the elbow joint and the other hand holding on to the wrist, bend the elbow by bringing the wrist to the shoulder as far as you can. Then, striaghten the elbow as far as you can.     

With the same handhold, turn the forearm so the palm faces down. Then, turn the opposite direction so the palm faces up.

Wrist: Support the part of the forearm close to the wrist with one hand. Using your other hand, bend the wrist forward and backwards as far as you can.

Fingers: Bend the fingers and wrist forward as far as you can. Next, straighten ad stretch the fingers and wrist backwards. Remember to stabilise the wrist joint. Spread open the fingers one by one.

With one hand supporting the fingers and wrist, move the thumb slowly away from the fingers and back. Next, move the thumb upwards and away from the palm then back. Bring the thmb forward and round to touch the base of the fifth finger ad back to its original position.

Points to note when performing these exercises:

  • Encourage the patient to participate in these exercises
  • Maintain a sustained stretch (do not bounce or jerk the joints)
  • Perform the movemets slowly
  • Ensure the joints are well supported
  • Always monitor for pain and discomfort
  • Never force a joint to move beyond what it can

If you are unsure of any of the exercises shown, please consult a neurological physiotherapist or ask your doctor for a referral.