Helpful Hand Exercises for Parkinson’s

An older adult man holding his wrist to control his tremors.

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement and coordination. One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s is tremors or shaking in the hands, making everyday tasks like writing, typing, and buttoning clothes difficult. However, engaging in hand exercises can help improve dexterity and fine motor skills for people with Parkinson’s.

Some helpful hand exercises for Parkinson’s that can be done at home or with the assistance of a physical therapist can include:

  • Finger tapping
  • Finger spread and pinch
  • Hand squeezing
  • Wrist rotations
  • Thumb-to-fingertip touches
  • Hand and finger stretches
  • Grip strengthening exercises

Finger Tapping

Finger tapping is a simple exercise that can help improve hand coordination and dexterity. To perform this exercise:

  1. Begin by creating an “O” with your index finger to your thumb.
  2. Release and fully extend your fingers.
  3. Continue tapping each finger to your thumb, fully extending them upon release.
  4. Repeat with the other hand.

Finger Spread & Pinch

This exercise can help improve fine motor skills and hand grip strength. To perform this exercise:

  1. Hold your hand out with your fingers together.
  2. Slowly spread your fingers apart as far as you can.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then bring your fingers back together to touch.
  4. Next, pinch your fingertips together.
  5. Repeat this movement of spreading and pinching your fingers for several repetitions.

Hand Squeezing

Hand squeezing is an excellent exercise for improving grip strength and hand mobility. To perform this exercise:

  1. Hold a soft ball, stress ball, or therapy putty in your hand.
  2. Squeeze the object as tightly as you can.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then release.
  4. Repeat this movement for several repetitions with both hands.

Wrist Rotations

Wrist rotations can help improve flexibility and range of motion in the wrists and hands. To perform this exercise:

  1. Hold your arm out in front of you with your palm facing down.
  2. Slowly rotate your wrist in a circular motion, making sure to move from the wrist and not the elbow.
  3. Repeat for several repetitions, then switch direction and rotate in a circle the opposite way.
  4. Repeat with the other hand.

Thumb-to-Fingertip Touch

This exercise can help improve hand coordination and dexterity. To perform this exercise:

  1. Place your hand on a flat surface, palm facing up.
  2. Begin by touching your thumb to each fingertip, one at a time, starting with the index finger and ending with the pinky finger.
  3. Repeat for several repetitions, then switch hands.

Hand & Finger Stretches

Stretching the hands and fingers can help improve flexibility, reduce tension, and prevent injuries. Some simple stretches to try include:

  1. Hold your hand out in front of you with your palm facing up.
  2. Use your other hand to gently pull back on each finger, stretching them one at a time.
  3. Next, interlace your fingers and push your palms away from you, feeling a stretch in the back of your hands.
  4. Then, with your hands still interlaced, rotate them in a circular motion, stretching your wrists.
  5. Finally, place both hands together in a prayer position and slowly push them down towards your stomach while keeping your elbows out to the sides.
  6. Hold each stretch for a few seconds and repeat as needed.

Grip Strengthening Exercises

An older adult man using hand grippers as a part of his hand exercise routine.

Having a strong grip is important for many daily activities, and there are several exercises you can do to strengthen your hand grip. Some examples include:

  • Squeezing a stress ball or tennis ball.
  • Using hand grippers, which are small devices specifically designed to improve hand and finger strength.
  • Crumpling up paper or tissue in your hand into a ball and then squeezing it.
  • Placing a rubber band around two fingers and opening and closing your hand to stretch the band.

Additional Tips for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

On top of regular hand and finger exercises, individuals with Parkinson’s disease can also benefit from incorporating additional measures for maintaining hand and finger health. These may include:

  • Scheduling regular appointments with a physical or occupational therapist who can provide specific exercises tailored to your needs.
  • Using assistive devices such as adaptive utensils or button hooks to make daily tasks easier.
  • Practicing daily activities that require fine motor skills, such as writing, drawing, or playing an instrument.
  • Maintaining overall physical health through regular exercise and a balanced diet to support hand and finger function.
  • Using mindfulness techniques to improve finger dexterity and coordination. This can include activities like coloring, knitting, or playing with putty or clay.

Specialized Support for Parkinson’s at Juniper Village at Monroeville

Engaging in specific hand and finger exercises and incorporating beneficial lifestyle adjustments can significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. These exercises are designed to improve grip strength, flexibility, and overall hand dexterity, contributing to greater independence in daily activities.

At Juniper Village at Monroeville, we support our residents with Parkinson’s disease by providing specialized physical and occupational therapy programs, along with a variety of enriching activities that promote hand and finger health. 

Our goal is to help individuals maintain their independence and continue living fulfilling lives. If you or your loved one are looking for a supportive community that caters to the unique needs of individuals with Parkinson’s disease, we invite you to visit our community.

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