The Importance of Repetitive Task Practice in Stroke Rehab

With Dr. Nick Housley 26th Oct, 21


After a stroke, constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) can enable people to gain back their ability to perform functional tasks, such as lifting a coffee mug, standing up, and sitting. The CIMT basically forces the use of the affected side by restraining the unaffected side of the upper limb.

In this article, we will discuss how strokes can create a gap between intent and execution. Moreover, you will learn about the factors that will affect your stroke rehabilitation and what constraint-induced movement therapy can do for you.

Why it gets challenging to perform an activity after a stroke?

A neurological injury often leads to a disconnect between intent and execution. A stroke can damage the motor cortex of the brain. As a result, it prevents the brain from sending signals to the affected arm or leg to tell them to move. It is one thing to think about doing a task but executing the movement requires additional networks.

The challenge after a stroke is a gap between the internal mapping and model of the activity and the actual ability to perform it. For example, you may want to lift the coffee mug, but you can not lift it. It is an exceptionally complex problem, but the best way to cure it is going through repetitive task practice and constraint-induced movement therapy.

What factors can hinder your stroke rehabilitation?

Stroke rehabilitation varies from person to person. It is hard to predict how much time you take to recover and how many abilities you will recover. Subsequently, it is hard to pinpoint one factor which can affect your progress. There are a number of factors such as alcohol, smoking, lack of sleep, poor diet, obesity, etc., that can hinder your stroke recovery. Further, the extent of the injury, where the injury occurred, and age are also important factors affecting the progress.

These factors can impair the health and quality of your nervous system, causing reductions in the capacity of your brain to adapt. However, having a good lifestyle, proper sleep, stroke rehab, repetitive task practice, and taking care of yourself will have marginal, but perhaps significant effects on long-term recovery.

How does Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy work?

CIMT reduces the effects of a stroke on patients’ upper limbs. It encourages repetitive task practice with the affected arm to regain the ability to perform daily life activities. CIMT (also known as forced therapy) works on four components which are:

  1. Repetitive, structured practice emphasizes the use of the affected arm to perform tasks.
  2. Restraint unaffected/less affected arm
  3. Applying behavioral techniques to overcome the impairment of the upper limb
Many studies have confirmed that CIMT is very effective for stroke patients. With CIMT combined with other stroke therapy, stroke-affected people can significantly improve their functional activities, which can last up to six months.


A stroke can damage the control signal from the brain to the muscle. CIMT is an excellent approach for stroke rehabilitation. The type of practice and the amount of time spent practicing may affect the effectiveness of this therapy.

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