Kinesio Taping to Restore Lost Arm Function After Stroke

A 2006 journal article examined the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape application in restoring functional use of the arm and shoulder after stroke-induced paralysis. This type of paralysis, known as hemiplegia, occurs on only one side of the body and can affect muscles in the face, arm, and leg, though the article in question deals only with the arm. Authored by Ewa Jaraczewska and Carol Long, the article is called “Kinesio Taping in Stroke: Improving Functional Use of the Upper Extremity in Hemiplegia.”

Therapeutic Kinesio TapingThe article’s abstract describes its focus for providing Kinesio Tape instruction, as follows: “The purpose of this article is to present the Kinesio Taping method used to improve the upper extremity function in the adult with hemiplegia. The article discusses various therapeutic methods used in the treatment of stroke patients to achieve a functional upper extremity.”

The introductory matter for the article goes on to explain the second key reason the authors had for writing the piece, stating that “the only taping technique for various upper extremity conditions that has been described in the literature is the athletic taping technique.” It’s clear, then, that in writing this piece, the authors sought to correct the lack of information available on this particular therapeutic use of Kinesio Tape.

The authors provide information on assessment, as well as on the use of Kinesio Tape and the Kinesio Taping Method in conjunction with other therapies to “(facilitate) or inhibit muscle function, support joint structure, reduce pain, and provide proprioceptive feedback to achieve and maintain preferred body alignment.” Before they delve into the details of the Kinesio Tape Method however, the authors ensure that the reader recognizes the importance of the information that will follow, reminding him or her that “restoring trunk and scapula alignment after the stroke is critical in an effective treatment program for the upper extremity in hemiplegia.”

The article begins by describing the various types of muscular weakness or imbalance that may occur as the result of a stroke, creating severe limitation in the use of the affected limb. These include body misalignment, poor postural control, muscular spasticity, and poor voluntary muscle control.

The authors use photographs to illustrate the proper application of Kinesio Tape to specific muscles and muscle groups for various therapeutic uses, such as to relax a tight muscle, to support a weak muscle, to relax an overstretched muscle and provide proprioreceptive feedback. In the photographs in which the authors felt that proper Kinesio Tape application technique would be clearer through instructional markings on the tape, they inserted explanatory arrows and other similar markings (albeit somewhat crudely drawn) to demonstrate such technical factors as the direction of application of the Kinesio Tape (either from origin to insertion or insertion to origin), a factor which plays a critical role in the tape’s effectiveness for specific therapeutic purposes.

This in-depth treatment of the topic provides a great deal of information for anyone interested in using Kinesio Tape to help restore function to the arm or shoulder after a stroke. The authors provide detailed explanations of the functional anatomy and kinesiology of the various structures that affect arm movement and offer step-by-step instructions for each specific application of the Kinesio Tape Method for a particular functional deficit.

While the online article is an old-style photocopy and the photos also use older technology, as well as crudely drawn instructional markings on the Kinesio Tape (or the photo itself), the information the article contains should nevertheless prove valuable in treating post-stroke upper extremity malfunction.

Read the complete article – Kinesio Taping in Stroke: Improving Functional Use of Upper Extremity in Hemiplegia

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