Even with my severe spasticity, the therapist , with electro-dry needling and working her hinny off, can stretch my fingers out to almost full extension (straight) and my wrist to almost neutral position (straight). The electro-dry needling is my word for it. I imagine there is a technical word for it. I just can't remember the term right now. A battery operated device causes the muscles to contract and relax through a sequence electrical shocks. The electrodes are attached to the various acupuncture needles inserted into my muscles. It basically saves the therapist time, and wear and tear on herself. It can tire the muscles in ten minutes versus an hour of manipulation by hand.
At times, the spasticity in my hand is so bad my nails will bite into my palm enough to draw blood. As I said my spasticity is severe and most severe spastic sessions can last hours (think spasticity on overdrive). Yes, it's very painful. I've described it here and other places as a cramp on top of a Charlie horse.
Grossness Alert, but it's honest
The normal shedding of skin cells pile up in the palm, creases in the wrist, the crease in the elbow, and between the fingers. As you can imagine this with normal sweating...the smell of this dead skin is awful. The old saying of it will gag a maggot fits perfectly to this. While many therapist will say that ice reduces spasticity, but remember I'm the Queen of Abby Normal. It takes moist heat and a lot of it. I've got a 40-gallon water heater and when I bathe, it takes every drop of it to reduce the spasticity enough to relax the muscles enough for me to marginally wash these places. Most times, it's by brute force shoving the washcloth in there. At times, I've even resorted to a Scotch-Brite green scrubber part that the sponge has worn off to exfoliate my hand. Yes, I'm sold on Scotch-Brite as I said in an earlier post. A simple washcloth just doesn't do the job. The worn out green part is thin enough that it will fit wear a loofah will not. Even with all of that, there's still dead skin left in the nooks and crannies. I know because I can feel the slimy mess when I dry off. My spastic, inverted foot isn't as bad because the skin is exposed for the most part.
Now my hand isn't always spastic in a fist closed fashion. Since the fingers will move, sometimes I become spastic in a witch's craw. Every joint hyper extends in the opposite of normal. Yes, I had the ability to do this before my strokes at will. Every couple of months, the hand will relax as pictured like this morning. Although the spasticity will persist in the wrist, the fingers are pliable and I can voluntarily move them a little. Oh happy hours~ because at the most that's how long it will last. It's a mini spa day at the Murphey Saga house. I'll break out my soft loofah and being careful not to touch the center of my palm, I'll scrub everywhere else. Touching the center of the palm reflex will cause the hand to close into a fist. I am also careful not too extend my wrist too much because this will cause the spasticity to return. It will be awkward trying to get at places but it sure beats a closed fist. I'll immerse the hand in warm water to rinse the dead skin and sweat away. Oh heaven! The hand is actually clean!
I have mentioned several fields of study in this blog. I'm an expert of none of them. I do watch, read, question, and learn what works and what doesn't as it pertains to me. I've been in occupational and physical therapies for over half my life with this or that ailment, or it seems like it. I've never stopped and added up all the hours. There's also a limit to what I can do for myself with one functioning hand. I'll do what I can and ask others for help if needed. The other more questionable practices like acupuncture, massage therapy and reflexology have is garnered knowledge from licensed, holistic healing persons over the years. I say whatever works, do it. It really can't hurt. Even my PT follows my suggestions because it alleviates my pain and helps with my range of motion while she works. Now that's team work.
Nothing is impossible.