(Note: Having a place to work out at home is essential when COVID-19 makes it hard to attend therapy. Here is a free chapter from my book Stronger After Stroke that offers suggestion for a at-home stroke recovery gym.)
Clearly, it’s easier to study at the library, do paperwork at your desk, and cook in the kitchen. Every stroke survivor also needs a space within his or her home dedicated to recovery. It should be a space where you can focus on recovering from your stroke. Like a library, it should only have the distractions you want; like a desk, it should be organized; like a kitchen, it should have all the recovery tools you need. Some stroke survivors prefer to pursue at least some of their recovery effort in a community gym. Even if one joins a community gym (see the section Space to Focus—The Community Gym, later in this chapter), there are great reasons for having a home gym as well.
How Is It Done?
Your home gym can be a basement, an extra bedroom, or a corner of a room. It does not have to be big and does not have to have any more equipment than you need.
It should have what is necessary to facilitate recovery. This may include exercise equipment, a TV, VCR, DVD player, a stereo, and inspirational art. Build your gym as a place of sanctuary and a place of work. Ideas for equipment include:
• A treadmill• A recumbent cycle
• An upper body ergometer (hand cycle)
• An exercise mat
• Parallel bars or other equipment used to maintain balance
• Resistance bands
• Electrical stimulation devices
• Balls, decks of cards, or other “toys”
• A mirror
This list can be as long or as short as it needs to be. A small amount of simple equipment that is well thought out and well used is better than a lot of expensive equipment left in a corner. Doctors and therapists can help compile a list of needed equipment.
What Precautions Should Be Taken?
Be prudent when assembling the gym and think safety first. Any exercise or therapy equipment has inherent dangers. For instance, a treadmill provides a moving surface that may be inappropriate for some stroke survivors. Even something as simple as a ball can facilitate a loss of balance that can cause a fall. Consider installing grab-bars for any balance exercises you do. Make sure the floor is nonslip given the footwear you expect to use. Doctors will tell you if an exercise or therapy is safe, and therapists will explain how to do the exercise or therapy in the most effective way possible.