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Rehab On A Rower

When Norma suffered a stroke, it affected the entire left side of her body, greatly reducing the strength and mobility in her arm and hand. After recuperating in hospital and taking part in physiotherapy, she recovered some of the movement she had lost; however she was still frustrated that she couldn’t do everything she had previously been able to and was desperate to build up her strength once again.

Norma therefore decided to join a local gym in Norwich and was keen to sign up for the rowing class as she recognised this would be an ideal exercise to workout her arms and legs simultaneously. Thanks to some lottery funding, the gym had been able to buy an adaptive rower with a seat that offered extra support for those with limited core muscle and balance – ideal for Norma. However, due to the weakness in her left hand, she was unable to maintain a firm grip on the rower bar when pulling it and it would constantly come out of her hand.

As it happened, at this particular gym there was an occupational therapist called Rachael who was working to help those with limited mobility get back into exercise. One of the main tools Rachael used for this was the Active Hands General Purpose gripping aid. She had recently seen great success with it when worn by someone who had suffered a stroke. Norma was able to borrow this aid, and discovered that it instantly solved the problem she had been experiencing! By slipping her hand into the aid and then fastening it round the bar of the rower, she was able to achieve a firm yet comfortable grip on it which allowed her to pull as hard as she liked without fear of it coming out of her hand again.

“My left hand is badly affected by the stroke and until I sampled the aid I was unable to maintain a grip.”


Norma was quick to order her own General Purpose gripping aid and finds it absolutely invaluable, as without it she would be unable to participate in any of her gym classes. Thanks to a combination of adaptions and aids, along with her own determination and perseverance, Norma is now able to attend regular rowing classes at the gym and even uses the SkiErg machine!

By building her physical strength back up, she is in turn rebuilding her confidence. Now feeling more positive about the future, she has recently been back on the Active Hands website to look at a splint to wear on her hand as she sleeps, as well as to explore what other aids may be of benefit to her, both at home and at the gym.

“[The General Purpose gripping aid] had me feel that I was able to join in with the other members and be part of a group again.”

Gareth Herridge