I do a lot of talks. Tons of them. Constantly. To therapists. And I say to them usually early in the day, "Look, I'm staring down the barrel of hundreds of years (sometimes more than a thousand) years of clinical expertise. One of my goals today is to have you share your best ideas. That way, tomorrow, when I do another talk, I can present your idea, claim its my own, and give you no credit." They laugh. Its funny because its true. And they do give me their ideas and I do steal them and then present them in my book, articles, talks, or this lovely blog.
And here's a stroke-recovery strategy I got the other day form the fine therapists at BONE Physical therapy and Rehabilitation (they appear not to have a website, but that link will at least get you a phone number.) They're in Columbus, GA.
Training the "good" side
In folks who have not had a stroke, we've known this for decades: If you strengthen only one side (say, your left side) the other side strengthens too.
It's true in survivors as well: If you strengthen (so says some preliminary research) the unaffected side, the effected side gets stronger. A researcher at the University of Victoria, Canada, Katie Dragert, appear to be the scientists who have explored this issue the most.
Here's an example: If you do resistance training for the dorsiflexion on the "good" side...
... the "bad side" gets stronger.
How did they do it?
•Stroke survivors did performed 6 weeks of maximal dorsiflexion.
•What did they gain on the "good side"?
~34% strength increase on the "good side."
•What did they gain on the "bad side"?
~31% strength increase on the "bad side."
We also know that bilateral training -- when you use both sides together, the "good" side helps the "bad" side become more coordinated. your challenge is to find a way to put these two concepts...
1. strengthen the good to strengthen the bad
2. use the good to train the bad