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Stroke Recovery

UC San Diego Health takes a comprehensive approach to arm, hand and leg dysfunction following a stroke or brain injury. Using novel and innovative treatments, our stroke restoration specialists help you regain function and quality of life.

Stroke Affects Function

Nearly 80 percent of people who recover from a stroke still have trouble with limb function, despite advanced rehabilitation efforts.

Difficulty controlling movement and partial paralysis hemiplegia and hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body) are some of the most common side effects of a stroke. 

Mainly, a stroke can make it difficult for you to walk, move your arms, or open and close your hands.

After a Stroke

After a stroke, the nervous system attempts to “rewire” and repair itself to compensate for the lost motor systems. In many cases, the nervous system is unable to restore normal control to all of the muscles.

Some muscles do not respond at all, while others are significantly overactive, resulting in dysfunctional postures of the arm and hand. These dysfunctional muscles at times hide muscles that may actually have good control.

Surgery and Treatment

Rehabilitation and physical therapy is usually tried before surgery or other treatments are considered.

Treatment techniques our team uses to restore function include:

  • Botox injections
  • Partial cutting of an overactive nerve (neurotomy)
  • Transfer of nerves to restore function to inactive muscles (nerve transfer)
  • Lengthening or cutting of tendons that become shortened and immobile
  • Rerouting of tendons to balance forces across a joint (tendon transfer)
See also: 

Personal Treatment Plan

Our specialists work with you to develop the most effective plan for restoring function.

To determine the best course of treatment, we:

  • Identify the level of electrical activity in each muscle.
  • Test specific arm muscles using diagnostic technologies (e.g., multichannel EMG studies).