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A stroke, or “cerebrovascular accident” (“CVA”) involves damage to the brain caused by a disturbance in blood supply. The area of the brain that is affected will determine the resulting symptoms.

A popular CIMT activty is pouring a glass of water with the weaker hand in order to strengthen it
  • Ischaemic stroke: caused by a blockage in the blood supply, often due to a clot in the artery that carries blood to the brain.
  • Haemorrhagic stroke: caused by bleeding from vessels within the brain, often due to a blood vessel bursting.

Hemiplegia following a stroke: Generally a stroke will occur in one side of the brain, affecting the opposite side of the body. For example a stroke in the right side of the brain may result in weakness and motor problems in the left side of the body.

Weakness in one side of the body is known as hemiplegia. This weakness can be initially severe while the brain recovers. During this recovery time, it is common for a person to find functional tasks such as washing and eating difficult to do with their weaker arm, so they adapt their behaviour and learn to complete tasks with just their stronger arm. If this behaviour continues the person develops a learned non-use of their weaker arm, and fail to use it even when some recovery may be possible.

Constraint induced movement therapy was originally devised and tested on people who are recovering from stroke who present with learned non-use. The largest body of scientific research has been carried out on stroke survivors, showing a clear benefit from CIMT in improving the amount and quality of movement in their weaker arms. CIMT is suitable for anyone recovering from a stroke who has one weaker arm and hand, regardless of how long ago the stroke occurred.

A stroke can affect more than just the arm. CIMT is suitable for a stroke survivor who has additional weakness in other parts of their body, as long as there is no threat to safety (eg relying on the stronger arm to balance and mobilise). You CIMT therapist will conduct a full assessment prior to a programme to ascertain your suitability.

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