Saturday, April 6, 2013

Silly Putty it Just Takes Time

Re-Teaching your Brain

It is all about re-training your brain to do what you already knew how to do post stroke.  I have been carrying around the toughest level of putty (blue color) and two bands (one orange and one green the colors indicate different levels of resistance) in order to complete the exercises that have been assigned to me. 
picture found on ebay advertisement

Thursday was my most recent appointment at Center of Health and Healing (CHH) the part of OHSU that is located East of I-5.  I spent the day with my husband with a few other appointments and getting some work completed.  I made my way down the tram to CHH for my appointment where I waited fro 10 minutes post appointment time. Then I was called back by a different Occupational Therapist than my previous appointment.  We discussed what continuing difficulties I was having (which I might add are not  many).  They include not being able to untwist smaller (pop bottle) caps that are twisted on too tightly, holding my cell phone in that hand while texting without fatigue and writing more than a page without fatigue. 

I was curious if the exercises I have been doing to rebuild strength were making a difference. So we checked. I held the handy dandy strength machine in each hand three times and gripped with all my might.  It turns out that my right dominant hand strength is slowly increasing from what it was last time about a few weeks ago. Similarly my individual finger strength is increasing as well.  It was a great visit.
picture found on

The Occupational Therapist asked me to show her how I was completing the exercises, so I pulled out my putty, my bands and my picture list of exercises and began the demonstration.  I indicated to her the ease I was having with some of them.  Time to switch it up.  The OT brought out a deck of cards, a block with nuts and bolts and other cards with pictures of hand (fine motor) exercises and she began to assess what difficulty with those I was having.  By the end of the appointment I had knew exercises with my silly putty and household items (deck of cards, change from coin purse) to practice daily.

The biggest piece I took away from our conversation and practice during this appointment is that really "time" is the biggest factor to increase my sensation and strength. It is really re-training my brain to work correctly again (though not far from it now) in order to do the movements that I was previously able to do.  Give it time. Give it time. Work it out and be intentional but give it time.  This is a lesson in patience for me.

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