Homemade solutions are the best

You know when you’re stuck with a problem and can’t find an answer? Then it’s time to make up your own solution. We’ve talked about using a metronome, isometric exercises with a spacer ( a weight ) between my knees to deal with my locked glute day, grabbing a broom-stick for exercising, improvising different techniques and inventing ways to cope here and there. I’d also love to know how many times I’ve tried something which must have come close to solving a problem… today I completely stretched out my leg, as if yawning. It has helped my tight glute, but not solved it.

I remember 5 months after my stroke, I was desperate to feel something / anything in terms of sensation in my hand. So I made up a sequence of exercises which I went through each and every day for a month, until, using all my will-power I finally reached a eureka moment where I felt an object in my hand for the first time. I’m sure I didn’t make it happen all by myself, but at the very least I must have stimulated my hand.

What invention did you make up to deal with a problem or situation you faced ? I’m interested in any story that solved a problem, even partially.


Not an invention but a great aid in getting the balance right between physical/ mental activities and rest periods. My precious egg timer. I’ve always overdo things and for the first year and more suffered bad fatigue and depression by pushing myself too far. someone recommended a watch that buzzed at intervals, used by folk who need to take take regularly medication to remind them . I settled for the egg timer . 20 minute period of activity then rest. It worked for me and I used it for a year or more.But using it regularly again now to time my reading. Old habits die hard , have difficulty putting a good book down , then, eye and brain pain.


@pando as you have probably seen in my posts I am “BIG” on experimentation. I think my problem is not sticking to my personal regimens. Its always…“well I’ve tried this for a week and…nothing”, LOL.
I am sticking to my exercise movement with resistance, then freehand, then mental image of said movement, all with focus. The jury is still out and too early to tell the result.
I’ve noticed that my “homework” is much more valuable than my 1 hour therapy twice a week.
I’ve backed off spending too much time in any meditation. It gets too comfy and often turns into a nap.
Movement is key.
With spasticity, Slow is the way to go, in exercise and daily tasks. I was making a frame for one of my paintings last week in a hurry for an upcoming show. The hurry made me seize up in rigidity and pain.
Same thing happens when I cook for the family. Last night I made a big salad with lots of fresh veggies,
hard boiled egg, bacon, and Tuscan Balsamic vinegar dressing. Garlic bread on the side. I took my time and focused on each movement of the process…sort of a Zen mindful activity. I really enjoyed it and no complaint from the old muscles. If I could only accept and stay in the “Now” all day. But it is hard for all of us I suppose.

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Seems like a great use for an egg timer… sticking to precise timing seems so much more important now, as too much of any one thing can be detrimental.

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Me too, Derek

I spend the whole day experimenting (usually every other day).
I also get into trouble if someone hurries me along, or waits for me
I like your discipline in slowing things down. Great technique.

I’ve not completey understood something: If you can make a frame for a painting, does that mean that you could try painting? Is it a question of not being able to use your dominant hand?

I recently have been practising the piano for 30 mins a day. The result is not very pretty…yet… but never mind. Oddly enough, I have started feeling the return of weight in my arm these last 3 days. It’s a breakthrough for me.

I’ve been stretching my locked leg out today… like you, it’s too early to make any conclusion.

Thx for contributing, ciao, Roland

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@pando hey Roland. I paint with two hands now. It goes more slowly and I’m not a such a photo-realist anymore…more impressionistic and loose. I’m just slow and a bit stiff on the piano. I’m good for about a 1/2 hour, then my hands start really get rigid. I keep at it everyday.
I’m capable to safety use my chop saw for framing and gluing the miter edges. I then spray paint the desired color.
My dominant hand can hold things, but it shakes and feels like I’m wearing a very tight rubber glove.

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I see ; but things can only improve for you.
I am often torn between listing all things I can no longer do, and all the thing I can do.

For, one ( almost certainly the same as you ) I wish I could type with my dominant hand
I have the motor skills, but cannot feel if i have struck a key or am holding it down.

Good luck, ciao, Roland

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@pando Oh yes…I can look back at all my typos lol.

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This is a thread that I can relate to .

Roland, as you will know from our chat I am convinced of the value of my broom handle. There has been a journey with stages. For a long time I’ve been thinking about writing something which perhaps this will be a prototypical test of my words

I had my stroke during lockdown. As a consequence (?maybe) external physiotherapy has been between absent, patchy and useless.

By necessity I have had to research and invent. I also think physiotherapists and occupational therapists have a block in their understanding that is hugely significant.

I’m fond of analogies:
if I have an interest in a heat source to enable me to cook the conversation with the physiotherapist is about “fire requires a source of ignition so here are some matches.” Not quite entirely relevant but definitely not an aid to cooking. I’m not even gonna mention when an electric hob is actually the device in use!

So my journey started in the immediate aftermath of my stroke with discovering that socks were a bridge too far, many other things a challenge & that teeth could be done left-handed.

this was the beginning of behaviours that now give problems. I am now equal to my socks because I have pushed myself to develop grip in my right thumb & first-finger and mobility in my right arm.
I don’t have the grip or the mobility equal to my toothbrush - is this because my left handed compensation, which was initially a necessity is now constraint, a disadvantage, an impediment to further progress?

Would an averagely competent PT / OT have been able to anticipate those stages in my developmental needs and devise and communicate a program that would balance the short-term imperative and the long-term objective with exercise and behaviour patterns in daily living that are complementary, build capability, managed as a journey?

My conclusion would be if the answer is yes then I’ve only met ones below average . But my belief is that they have been average and therefore it’s not commonly part of their dispensing regime.

Early on I partook of exercises like those described in the GRASP home manual but I was unaware that there was a GRASP hospital manual. The two are complimentary with little overlap in content. My PT’s guidance wasn’t equal to what it should & could have been. It was also insufficient in that it was couched in Latin EG supernation so alien, and uninspiring, academic, no visceral linkage (and because of covid, remote - Which doesn’t have to be an impediment but one does have to recognise how remote therapy provision differs from in person hands-on)

The experience then set me on the path to observing how my good arm still works, observing how things like washing my left armpit fail because of deficits in my movements, so constructing routines that would accentuate what I need in daily life .

I vary my routines on different cycles and without a plan because this is a journey for me that is unknown - pre knowledge is a requirement for planning - but varying with purpose and adaptation based on experiential observation.
Some things i vary after a week. Often I have to observe the need. For example a month ago I realised that when I dry myself after the shower I still put a lot of use into my left arm not my right although I was congratulating myself at the same time for having got to the stage where I combed my hair right handed. I can’t say I’m consistent because sometimes I’m fatigued by the huge task of having the shower but since then I’m definitely much more focused on drying myself right handed without the left hand having much of a role. It is tiring, slow, delivers a result of low quality, and is a step squarely on the path to the future and improvement :slight_smile:

I have used grippable and neuroball and their clever Wi-Fi interface to a tablet with games.
The sophistication of them is back to the matches or possibly two lumps of flint to create a fire.
Neither of them recognise that to pick a coffee cup up requires fingers wrist elbow shoulder.
Neither of them recognises a major problem is spasticity. Neither one of them recognises that to hold the cup requires continuity in the force applied.
Neither of them recognises that once I pick the thing up I want to be able to put it down and that requires opening my hand after closing it.
I can’t turn off inappropriate muscles to allow appropriate muscles to move my arm wrist and hand in an appropriate manner.
The effort of lifting the weight of my arm is palpable, it causes other unnecessary muscles like those in my toes to trigger.

none of this is anywhere in the PT/OT discussions I’ve had.
None of this is in the PTOT “now versus next year” - If they know it they don’t share it, and not communicating it has been a significant flaw in their value delivery. They aren’t value for money - in fact they simply don’t show awareness that building capability is a journey with stages and dependencies probably exist between those stages.

Likewise they haven’t devised programs that have recognised & responded that I’ve had other disciplines and medication and complications and compensations and secondary and tertiary impacts so I need a holistic not a point-specific solution. They won’t direct us equal to the whole task and nor was anybody else equal to the integration required

So all the above is the context for what I do for my capabilities development. To integrate and to direct

Initially I had very little movement so repetitive, dull, bookish exercises, apparently dislocated from life goals were my regime. As soon as I had flickers of movement I added goals like reaching to the top of the shower door, opening the shower door. As I progressed towards those I added all light switches and door handles should be attempted right handed . Washing the car, where to get my hand flat on the sponge requires lifting my right foot off the ground otherwise my toes curl then my fingers curl and my elbow curls - unwanted muscle activations. I’m still not at the stage where I can put my hand flat on the sponge for more than 5 or 10 seconds

I’ve got a moderate size garden that was somewhat overgrown so I bought a mini chainsaw that I can use one handed left handed. As of the last couple of months I’ve been considering buying a two-handed replacement. My hedge trimmer requires two hands and considerable dexterity in the hand operating the primary trigger to push the release button at the same time. I’m just about getting equal to doing that right handed - It’s ugly, awkward, tiring, only marginally functional but it’s doable and it’s squarely on the path to the future. So maybe it is time for a two handed chainsaw to be added to my therapy kit. Therapeutic devices are fat free when purchased by people who need them for therapy - wish me luck with the claim!

The key bit I think is peer support .
I think forums like this could add purposeful subgroups focused on supporting each other with our exercise regimes. I think they need to organising and we don’t have an organising structure here hence the supportive chatter but not cohesive purposeful discussion that is process and goal orientated - We each have difference in the details of our goals but not in the broad overarching sense


I went to a very large and famous facility in New Jersey. I had PT and OT 1/2 an hour each, twice a week.
PT focused almost exclusively on walking and balance. OT worked on fine motor skills like picking up a hundred pennies from a table and other game-like activities. These people were very kind, but seldom worked on my key issue: spasticity. They said the term was out-dated and it was now called Hyper-tone.
So…I had to come up with my own at-home moves that would help. Of course, the piano was great for the hands, although clumsy. I bought a huge white erasable marker board to practice writing ( such horrible hand writing). When the dish washer needs emptying, I make sure to tell my wife that I want to do it. The hard thing about that is my back tensing up.
A movement I also find helpful is to stand there and take everything out of my medicine cabinet or kitchen cabinet and then put it back in, with my affected hand. I used to paint at an easel while sitting and now after reading that standing is good for spasticity, I now stand as much as possible. Sitting too long makes it worse. Needless to say walking is a wonderful exercise while the weather is good: treadmill or stationary bike in winter.
As far as grasping things, I can pick up a mug of coffee or tea but getting it to my mouth is tough going.
So of course, I practice it anyway.
Roland, before I go to sleep I picture my piano keys and mentally play memorized pieces of music moving my imaginary fingers. Or I’ll do the scales.
What really is frustrating is the fact that I can do 3 sets of 20 sit-to- stand squats from a chair, but after half an hour at the computer, I can hardly get up.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a complete gym in the basement and do strength training 3 times a week. Once isna while I’ll put on some good music and do some dancing til’ I’m pooped out.
Mind you…all these things are done with stiffness and some pain that does not go away. At least “yet”.
I’m convinced that researchers have a grasp of what causes spasticity as in the lack of communication between brain and muscles. Neurologists like to throw drugs at you, and for therapists its stretch, stretch and then…stretch. I think what we creatively do at home and share with other survivors is key.
Roland: I’ve found some help with my right butt cheek and hip is ankle weights and a kind of “marching” raising the leg high for many reps and sets, but not too heavy a weight. Also lie on your belly and raise your leg up with the weight on. Try this without the weights at first. Easy does it. when standing, hold on to something.
Best wishes to all and I think that creating new ways to treat our condition is also good for the brain that got us into this in the first place…lol.


This is fantastic, Derek
So many good tried and tested tips in your post
My physio likes to call my problems spasms rather than spasticity ;
I’ts pretty clear though that there’s a neurological element, but at the same time my brain can influence my condition. It’s borderline control that I have, and the one day good, one day bad is a most curious phenomena.

Thanks for your contribution,
ciao, Roland

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What a fantastic reply. There are so many points that you make that make perfoect sense. It’s clear you manage and make up all your physio, according to your increasing abilities and needs.

While I had my affected arm “remapped”, I could not use it as well as one might suppose ; the difficulty then and now is that my delivery system is weak in certain areas. It is strenthening, but I believe you have quite a bit more strength in your right arm than I. I’m glad you’re really gaining so much use lately.

I agree about most physios, but I have stumbled across two that are rather good. We communicate well, and that makes up for exercises that I feel are not doing anything ; often it may be a lack of understanding one side or the other.

Thanks for your contribution, Simon, I’m going to reread your post again see if I’ve understood everything. Middle of lockdown must have set you back quite a bit. I had an online bio-mechanic, but found it a bit one-way.

Ciao, for now,


Hi Roland and Derek

Yes I’m going to read my post again in the day or two, and yours & also Derek’s

I often find that by reading something that I wrote sufficiently distant in time to have forgotten what I was thinking reveals new perspectives.
There is a guy called David kolb who built a model that says learning is Concrete Experience followed by a Reflective Observation followed by Abstract Conceptualization followed by Active Experimentation which gives the opportunity for concrete experience and so on - It’s not a circle it’s a spiral because the context evolves at speed of time

Having observed that the PTOT crowd are pretty universally kind empathetic concerned folk with a lot of time having been spent learning stuff that’s relevant It does seem to me it would be good in our own self-interests if we could describe for them the gap that they have and I know @pando that you have found your team willing to try and imagine being in your shoes - a rare trait I think

  • If we can describe the deficit in how they present their knowledge so that their imagining can be accurate then their translation to interventions as well made visceral, motivating, on point, effective and efficient, etc will be improved .

I suspect this requires a paradigm shift. The thought of moving a profession on to a new footing doesn’t phaze me :slight_smile:

Ciao Simon


I need to use this technique! Perhaps it will make it easier to avoid the pattern of one good day, then two bad. When I feel energetic or have more clarity than usual, I get excited to take advantage of it, and overdo.


Are you saying you have 1 good / 2 bad days, Ann ?

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Usually it happens that way. One day I will be almost as before strokes, with little to no fog, okay vision (not normal but best it gets since stroke) and quite a bit of energy. I overdo it, then the next day sleep a lot, and the second still foggy brained and shuffling around like I am 90 instead of 58. I just hate to waste the energy. Do you get like that?


I have wondered if rehabilitation is subjective to each survivor, as our brains are wired uniquely, then surely it would make sense that certain actions may produce different results. I would expatiate on this but it is 10 am, and my brain hasn’t quite come to grips with the day yet.

On the subject of homemade solutions, I have found that the “one action” technique has helped me manage fatigue. The idea is minimising a process so that it only requires one or two actions, it takes thinking ahead and some planning, but it has made life easier.

As my condition centres around cognitive visual-spatial issues, I haven’t found anything that immediately shows short-term improvement, however, understanding how the brain interprets light and movement has given me some strategic advantage over the condition. I am also interested in the placebo effect, I wonder if neurones light up as a result of it. As a crude example, if I wore a particular crystal around my neck, and was convinced that its healing properties aided my walking, does the brain react in a similar way to doing an activity that does aid walking? And if so, will it attempt pathways in a similar way? This is just speculation, as I don’t have the rigorous cerebral knowledge I would like to ascertain if I am just thinking guff or not.


I think it’s highly probable :slight_smile:

The keyword is convinced, rather than sceptical which I suspect would negate the effect.

Phantom limb pain is treated by watching a good limb move in a mirror placed where the missing limb would be. So similarly speculating the visual cortex is believing there is a limb and it contributes to one of the brain networks so is playing its part in the systems that normally operate. Maybe the efficacy of that is that a dysfunctional compensation that isn’t helpful is removed?

The role of brain networks isn’t something that I’ve not heard any one in stroke care or warrior talk about. They’re fundamental to understanding how the brain operates. Somebody on here said stroke as a word has an etymology that comes from stroked by the hand of God as an explanation for why people in earlier times were smitten. I think science in other areas may be contributing whereas in stroke it hasn’t yet advanced or pervaded practitioners’ foundations sufficiently to start unlocking doors - current therapies strike me as largely ‘repeating things that have serendipitously discovered as being beneficial in other people in the past’ rather than explained back to chemical electrical mechanical cause and effect



Not to mention collective neural networks, stroke is about brains communicating with brains about brains.


I’m 59 today, Got the flu for my birthday,
On the very best day for an hour or two I probably forgot I’d even had a stroke
I can’t climb the stairs as well as my father-in-law, he’s 91