At home workout series from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

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At Home Workout: Partner Exercise

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This group of exercises is designed for individuals who require assistance in order to perform various exercises to their full potential. Caregivers, family members, or any other partner can assist with these exercises—the focus should be on assisting, not performing the exercise for them. It is a short set of exercises with the intent of increasing blood flow and encouraging active engagement, even if it is small.  

The primary goal of those assisting will be to help eliminate the pull of gravity so that individuals performing the exercise need only worry about moving. Eliminating/reducing the effects of gravity means actions can be performed with a lower strength requirement. Therefore, anyone with strength impairments will be able to perform exercises through a larger range of motion. In most cases, moving through a large range of motion contributes to increased muscle recruitment and decreased spasticity of inactive muscles. 

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Tips/Modifications/Safety Precautions

  • Communicate about pressure, range of motion, and speed of movement. It is very easy to move further or faster than someone might be capable of.
  • When performing range of motion exercises, move slowly and deliberately.
  • When applying pressure, use as flat a surface as possible. I.e. your palm not your fingers.
  • If you are assisting, find a good position for yourself before performing any exercises. Otherwise, you could injure yourself.
  • Limit how much adjusting needs to happen once an exercise is started. If something isn’t quite right, reset and start over. 
  • Start with a small range of motion, and increase with each repetition. 

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