ADLs Are Where the Repetitions Are
Brain plasticity is amazing, but rewiring the brain requires thousands of repetitions (reps). Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are a great way to get the reps needed to retrain the brain.
Four examples show why three sets of ten each day cannot compete with ADLs.
1) Twice a day I open my hemiplegic (paralyzed) hand to grasp a tube of toothpaste so my sound hand can remove the cap. My hand opens again to hold the tube while I put the cap back on. In nine years I have opened my hand over 5000 times before brushing my teeth.
2) I have to turn 14 times to prepare cereal with a sliced banana. I have made this same breakfast for nine years so I have made over 45,000 turns. Add making a sandwich for lunch and preparing a hot meal for dinner and the number of turns I have made in the kitchen are in the hundreds of thousands.
3) Shopping is therapy for my hand. I open my hemiplegic hand to let go of the cart and reach for items with my sound hand. My hemiplegic hand opens a 2nd time when I grab the cart to move on. My hemiplegic hand opens a 3rd time so I can let go of the cart so I can maneuver to empty the cart in the check-out lane and again to load food into my car. Pick up 30 items + empty cart + load car means I open my hand 60 + 2 + 2 = 64 times. 64 x 2 visits a week x 9 years means I have opened my hemiplegic hand 59,904 times in the grocery store.
4) The distance I have walked at the grocery store is huge. I step away from the shopping cart and bend down or reach up to get items I want. The S-shaped curves I make to detour around people and other carts require more steps than walking in a straight line. According to my pedometer I walk 2,000+ steps each time I visit the grocery store. 2,000 x 2 visits a week x nine years = 1,872,000 steps!