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Hand exercises for people with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis can affect the strength and movement of your hands. This can make everyday tasks more difficult, such as getting dressed, writing, and picking things up. 

Here are some exercises which can help strengthen your hands.

1. Finger stars

Make a fist with your hand. Then straighten you fingers and stretch out your hand. Repeat this with the other hand. Do this up to 15 times with each hand, if you can. Gradually make the movement more difficult by adding resistance. You can do this by holding a sponge or a rolled up cloth in your palm, and squeezing it each time you make a fist.

You can progress this exercise into a full arm movement. Pick up the sponge, squeeze it and let it go again by placing it on a table.

2. Finger spreading

Spread your fingers wide apart, then squeeze them tightly together. Repeat this with the other hand. Do this up to 15 times with each hand. 

As with the finger stars, you can gradually make the movement more difficult by adding resistance. Do this by putting a rubber band around your fingers. Choose a rubber band that fits snugly, then spread your fingers apart. You will notice that this is more difficult. 

3. Thumb movements

Touch the tip of each finger to your thumb in turn. You can do this with both hands separately, or together. Repeat this up to 15 times.

You can progress this exercise by running your thumb down each finger to its base.

4. Playing the piano

Sit at a table, with your fingers on the edge of the table and your forearms hanging off. Lift up and put down each finger in turn, as if you were pressing keys on a piano.

5. Wrist exercise

For the final exercise, sit at a table and hold a rolling pin or walking stick in both hands. Rest your forearms on the table, and lift the item by extending your wrists. Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly lower the item back to the table. You must keep your forearms on the table throughout this exercise. Repeat the movement, progressing up to 15 times in a row.

Try fitting all of these exercises into your everyday routine, for example when you are watching television, so that you do them every day.

There are lots of other fun activities that are good physiotherapy for your hands. These include playing card games, playing video games with a hand held controller, and doing arts and crafts.

For more information about hand exercises, speak to a physiotherapist.