Painting, CIMT & functional hand use

Continuing the discussion from My latest watercolour:

Good hand or affected hand? Do you want today’s result or tomorrow’s?

IE Lousy painting great hand or great painting continued disability? (Or in my case whichever hand lousy picture)

I’ve never found the visceral understanding needed to render an image. But I used to be quite good at Celtic knotwork and calligraphy. I’ve not tried them since my stroke because of learnt non-use. Something that was (innocently) suggested promoting in the parent thread

I also did a program of Constraint Induced Movement Therapy. It convinced me that a good idea can be bent out of shape by people who don’t understand, whose experience is second hand plus book bound.

To properly understand (grok) it is helpful to reframe; It’s purpose is relearning your use, un-learning learnt non-use, learning reuse

Neuroplasticity has been wrongly positioned as our friend.

It isn’t.

It’s a neutral bystander that reinforces positively and negatively to the forces around -

There are more forces that operate on the negative side :frowning: They work individually and cumulatively. On the good side the forces only have effect when used in combination. It’s a very uneven playing field, massively stacked against us.

We are told that recovery happens ‘proximally to distally’ - and yet we see #StrokeWarriors typically recovery function in their walking faster than in there upper limb. My foot is obviously more distal than my hand, What about yours or anyone’s & everyone’s?. So if there’s any truth in this axiom there must be other mechanisms in play as well Or we’d have our hands working before our knee and ankles

I wrote this while eating my toast. Both activities were entirely prejudiced for my recovery by learnt non-use*

Since my stroke I have not become a hopping champion. I did not hop to my chair this morning but walked. I had no alternative when relearning to walk than to use the non-functional leg as best I could. But when drinking my coffees since ‘the day’ I have a choice which hand to pick it up with - hence now my upper limb is way behind my more distal lower.

* I haven’t done calligraphy because I don’t want to learn to do it left-handed. I didn’t actually entirely eat my toast left handed I opened the jar of marmalade two hand it and I used my knife right handed for about 60 seconds before the mess and frustration made me revert to the left hand. In that revision was my failure. I cleaned my teeth this morning left handed another failure although I normally do a third of them right handed only at 2/3 (partial) failure

These thoughts have been brewing with me a long time.

I applied for the community coordinator role in part because I believe we have to curate our own recovery and those who are advising us as ‘experts’ are not. (A chemist working for Windsor and Newton, Rownie, or Dulux is not a Renoir or Rembrandt)

We don’t need somebody to decide whether we can say ‘sex and travel’ - We would benefit from coordinating our thoughts about how we have the best advice for the best post stroke life - of course I didn’t even get an interview because I’m not experienced enough…

Different Strokes had a meltdown last weekend. It caused the formation of a new group . One not bound by the self-interests of a fundraiser as the admin so greater freedom to discuss topics of benefit to strokes survivors independent of religion (hosting orgs in denial that other orgs exist).

That has enabled some conversation

some conclusions to this ramble

A painting competition is a jolly good thing :slight_smile: community needs cohesion and competition and art are binding agents

Which hand you use has implications both for the friendly rivalry community with each other that’s also the battle against disability

Purposefull stroke community with aims beyond sharing social support needs more than we have seen so far emerge within the churches that erect the buildings indeed those churches are restrains


I had a physio put my good hand in my sock for the day. That allowed my stroke foot to contact the ground and stroke arm to work hard. My other physio said on Friday that she’s never known anyone work harder !
ciao, Roland


I haven’t read it all…too long in one go but the word failure jumped out at me.

None of what we do or don’t achieve is a failure. We have had to learn to adapt & find ways of achieving things so we can get by day to day. The fact that you can do so much of a task with your affected hand is a massive achievement. If you had to swap hands to finish the task so what? You can continue the rehab / relearning at other times and as time goes on you’ll find you use your affected hand more and more.

Anyway, thats my tuppence worth.

Happy Sunday.


And of course your opinion is valid for you as mine is for me :slight_smile:

for me not using my affected hand for things where I could and it would be beneficial is a failure of aspiration over reality.

I extend that failure to be one of therapists inability to communicate what was important in a compelling way - they were neither compelling nor knowledgeable about what was important… And of the health service that I paid into for my working life being adequate to provide me the service I should have when I have need

I use failure as a strong word in the hope that it will make others question whether they have been well advised, are well motivated, and are achieving everything possible when balancing fatigue, attitude, position in their journey, motivation, support and all the contexts which surround them etc



Such a friendly approach, Ann

There is so much that needs work, it surely can’t all be done at once. I think our own personal management is very important and getting the right balance between work and play is essential. Failure is our friend, for it leads to success. So, at the end of every day I count the positives, then I sleep well

thanks, Roland


@pando @SimonInEdinburgh Just an aside: I just read “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge. Probably the most informative book on neuro-plasticiy. Highly recommend.
Some of those tasks that Physios ( I think you call them that in UK?) At first seem to help, but as soon as the brain gets bored, they lose their effectiveness?
Constant challenges need to be grist for the mill, or tasks we love, like painting; such as Roland does. Boring repetition can work if we use a Zen-like attention in a slow and purposeful manner.
The brain says OK; it seems the conscious mind wants me to notice this movement and it must be important. You can’t do dumbbell curls while thinking of last night’s television show. You’re just hard wiring entertainment.
Feeling your entire body and watching your limbs move slowly with Qi Gong is another brain plasticity move. I understand that with music…even better.
In “mindfulmoves” with Jen, She mentions that if you have a hand problem it relates up the the elbow, to the shoulder, and the traps.

By the way, my experiments in levels of exercise etc. are still ongoing. Give me a wee bit more time. I’ll post results my dear friends.


Fantastic post Derek,

I’ll look up the book and read over your post again, but you’ve obviously lived and breathed the words you say. I’ve just finished installing my wife’s new computer, so, exhausted but excited for her, as she is. Her old PC was almost 20 years old, but still working,

ciao, have fun, Roland


Yep - I’ve been banging on for ever that physios understanding for repetition suits muscles but not neuro rehab
I’ve mentioned the book Make It Stick before.

Written for advising how to make professional and university type education effective but with obvious parallels in neurodiversity :slight_smile:

I’m still working on my hand - recognising it is part of an adaptive system I was told me to get more dexterity I need to work on wrist elbow and shoulders - Why I now open doors from 3 or 4 feet away and stretch to reach the handle. I am at the stage where a lot of things arm extensions with effort cause shuddering

I’m glad to hear your experiments are still proceeding I’m interested to hear what you have discovered



@SimonInEdinburgh One thing I can tell you Simon. If my shoulder is having a bad day, my hand follows suit. Same with the elbow. If the right side of my back is bad, the hip and leg join in with spasticity and weakness.
If I could only find one universal exercise that fits all the links in the chain. focusing too much on one body part, can create an imbalance throughout.
The physios religion of “stretching” at least for me, is useless and sometimes make things worse. Hang in there Simon.

@pando Roland: always exciting to get a new toy.