Roughly 795,000 people suffer from a stroke annually in the United States. While a stroke is a leading cause of death in the US, many individuals survive after experiencing one. Rehabilitation centers across the country aid in helping stroke survivors recover from the traumatic event. One of the ways in which rehab centers assist is by providing puzzles for stroke patients.
Why Puzzles Are Beneficial Games for Stroke Patients
After experiencing a stroke, games are probably the last thing that comes to mind to aid in recovery. However, jigsaw puzzles have a slew of health benefits, and many of them have to do with the functioning of the brain.
Jigsaws aid in memory retention, improve cognitive and fine motor skills, enhance hand-eye coordination, and is a low-stress activity. Brain games for stroke patients are one of the ways rehabilitation centers can help individuals regain neurological functioning and physical mobility.
6 Ways Jigsaw Puzzles Aid Stroke Survivors
Jigsaw puzzles are not only fun activities for stroke patients, but they can also aid in their mental and physical recovery. Here are six ways they do that.
1. Enhance Memory Retention
A stroke reduces blood flow to the brain and one of the things that can impact is memory retention. Jigsaw puzzles are a tool to help individuals recall memory and help them remember details for longer periods. Jigsaws can also aid in mental reasoning and increase processing speed. Plus, it’s a fun, interactive activity in comparison to other memory-related activities.
2. Aid Cognitive Thinking
Another side effect of a stroke is a decrease in cognitive thinking. Jigsaw puzzles activate both hemispheres of the brain, so doing a jigsaw puzzle can help individuals utilize parts of the brain that may have been affected by the stroke. By putting the pieces together, cognitive thinking skills are enhanced, as well as problem-solving and critical thinking.
3. Improve Fine Motor Skills
A decrease in fine motor skills is one of the results of those that experience a stroke. Grasping items may become more challenging than it had been before. Strokes can sometimes leave a person with total loss of movement in parts of their body. Jigsaw puzzles are ideal one-handed activities for stroke patients to engage in.
Studies have found that when it comes to improving fine motor skills, puzzles are an inexpensive tool to utilize. Jigsaws are beneficial for fine motor activities for adults after strokes, as they can help individuals practice this skill. Picking up the puzzle pieces and turning them in their hands is one way to help improve their grip and regain fine motor skills.
4. Regain Hand-Eye Coordination
After a stroke survivor has had some time for their brain to rest, working on a jigsaw puzzle can be a tool to utilize for those that have experienced a loss in hand-eye coordination. Professionals in hospitals and rehabilitation centers will often use jigsaw puzzles as a tool to help stroke patients recover their hand-eye coordination. The process of fitting pieces together and placing them where they belong helps the patient better understand the connection between their eyes and hands.
5. Regulate Mood
Jigsaw puzzles increase dopamine production, the feel-good chemical the brain releases to trigger pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. This chemical release can be a mood booster and help aid in concentration and memory retention, coinciding with the benefits previously mentioned.
6. Ease Stress
Depending on the severity of the stroke an individual has experienced, therapy sessions such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy can be intense and stressful. Jigsaw puzzles have been proven to aid in neurological and physical rehabilitation, but perhaps most importantly, they are a low-stress activity that patients can enjoy while simultaneously helping them regain functions they may have lost.
Jigsaw puzzles are a therapeutic activity that anyone can enjoy and can be especially beneficial for individuals recovering from a stroke. The severity of a stroke can vary, and the impact it has on the brain is different for each individual. Working on a jigsaw puzzle can help aid in a multitude of ways as a person recovers from a stroke, including memory retention, hand-eye coordination, cognitive thinking, and fine motor skills. Puzzles are also beneficial in helping improve one’s mood and provide a low-stress activity.