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Stroke-recovery Dexterity Exercise

A note of encouragement to stroke survivors or others recovering from a disability.

I made this project only six months after my stroke. My left hand was still severely impaired, so I could use it only for brute-force steadying of material being clamped in the chuck or a vise. I used my right hand for everything else, including operating the machines.

Moral: Keep trying – never give up!

Not all projects are made from metal –– sometimes wood is used. This is my version of a dexterity exercise I used during occupational therapy to help me recover from a stroke I suffered in June 2007. The goal is to pick up pegs from the table with the impaired hand and put them into the nine holes in the board.

To begin, I used the lathe to cut identical lengths of ¼" aluminum rod, faced the ends smooth, and lightly-knurled half the length of each peg to provide an easier-to-grasp surface. The unmachined surface was too smooth for fingers that didn't function well. I made 10 pegs instead of nine, to have a spare in case one is lost.

For the oak base, I used the milling machine as a precision drill press. The X-Y table allowed me to quickly and accurately move the work to the exact position for each hole, and a stop on the vertical axis ensured that all holes were drilled to the same depth.

Top View

On the bottom, I used a regular end mill to cut the deep cavity that stores the pegs, and a 60° end mill to cut the shallow track with beveled sides to hold the plastic cover.

Bottom View

Updated September 7, 2016