Recovering Fine Motor Skills in the hand after a stroke or brain injury can be a slow and frustrating process. Often it lags behind the rest of your recovery progress.
Patience helps, and also knowing that your brain has the ability to change throughout your life, at any stage.
Most therapists recommend repetitive exercises. Repetitive movements can help groove in those neural pathways.
When starting from scratch, I will argue that it's more important to explore new neural pathways, instead of going with whatever movement worked the first time right off the bat and repeating it endlessly.
In other words... make sure the movement that you are repeating is REALLY the movement that you want grooved in.
Fine motor skills require your brain to notice small, seemingly insignificant differences.
Functionally, you might be thrilled to be able to eat with a fork with your affected hand again.
And yes, you should be thrilled!
But was that very first time the most efficient and elegant way?
That's because we learn through approximations.
And while it's definitely cause for celebration when you hit that first approximation, it's best for your brain to think of it as just that. An approximation (with a fabulous result!).
Playing with approximations gives your brain the information it needs to organize your movements even more.
Refinement can only happen when your brain has the motor and sensory input it needs to distinguish smaller and smaller differences.
Distinguishing differences is what learning (and recovery) is all about!
Becoming aware and curious about your movements is the first step.
Then you can add in some super fun things to really get your brain into learning mode. Like adding in variation, going slow and being enthusiastic.
A great resource to learn more is Anat Baniel's book: "Move into Life: NeuroMovement for Lifelong Vitality".
8 Mindful Steps for Fine Motor Refinement
So, with all that theory, let's use it with an simple, gentle movement lesson to help restore fine motor skills in the hand!
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Jen Stewart is a mommy of 3 amazing kids and a practitioner of NeuroMovement™