How to cope with post-stroke balance problems


Stroke can happen to anyone, at any age, and is often a life-changing event. Most stroke survivors experience long-term health problems afterwards. Mobility and stability problems are among the most common and, by the same token, the most difficult.

Recovering from a stroke isn’t easy, and not being able to stand stably can be discouraging. This article aims to reassure stroke survivors and give you the best ideas for improving your stability after a stroke.

What is a stroke?

Stroke is a serious medical emergency, affecting 15 million people worldwide every year [1]. Your brain, like your whole body, needs oxygen carried by the blood to function. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted by a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel. As a result, brain cells in the affected area may cease to function or simply die. This can result in short- or long-term brain damage. The consequences of a stroke are varied, but many patients experience some degree of mobility and stability problems [2]. Multiple symptoms can affect your balance, such as dizziness, muscle weakness, vision problems and tremors. Recovering balance after a stroke is therefore a highly complex and delicate process.

There is no single solution.
Every stroke survivor faces unique problems that require an individual approach. What’s more, patients and their symptoms evolve over time, so the solution must evolve with them. Here we recommend the most universal solutions to post-stroke mobility, stability and balance problems.

What are the best ways to improve your balance after a stroke?
1. Physiotherapy
The modern approach to physiotherapy is remarkably effective in post-stroke rehabilitation. Physiotherapists know that your brain has the wonderful potential to reconnect. This is called neuroplasticity.

Simply put, neuroplasticity enables you to learn, including skills that require movement. Thanks to this process, when one part of your brain has been affected by a stroke and is dysfunctional, another region can take over its role. Establishing new connections between neurons requires work and repetition. Fortunately, researchers show that even an hour and a half of exercise, 3 to 5 times a week, can dramatically improve your balance and walking [3]. It will be even more effective if your exercise regime is tailored to your needs by a competent physiotherapist.

What’s more, new therapies (as well as old and repurposed therapies) successfully adapted to specific body functions and brain regions are becoming available. An impressive example is vestibular therapy, which consists of simple, repetitive exercises that can relieve post-stroke vertigo in 90% of patients [4,5].

The process of creating new connections between the brain’s neurons doesn’t happen overnight, and requires a great deal of perseverance and repetition. That’s why, during a physiotherapy session, you’ll be asked to patiently repeat movements that require your effort and awareness. Such re-education will stimulate neuroplasticity and your brain will step by step redirect the affected activity towards its fully functional parts [6]. Depending on the severity of your problems, rehabilitation can take months or even years. So it’s important to remember that your patience and attitude are the real key to your recovery.

2. Well-adapted assistance device

Physical therapy is undoubtedly your best chance of improving post-stroke balance and mobility. However, this doesn’t mean you have to fight walking during your recovery period. Various assistive devices can help you feel stable and confident, while giving you the independence you need to get around.

Walking sticks are very popular among stroke survivors because of their effectiveness in providing physical support. What’s more, they can improve your gait (the way you walk), walking speed and step length [7]. However, not all types of rods are suited to your needs.

Research shows that four-legged canes are more effective as balance aids than ordinary canes [8] in stroke survivors with semi-paralysis (hemiplegia) or weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis). The problem with quadripod canes is that they have to be lifted with every step. When lifted, the user cannot lean on them. This creates a risk of imbalance and a fear of falling.

When recovering from stroke, patients need ongoing balance support. Wheeleo® has been designed to be lift-free. The walker-cane has four large wheels and a central balance point, providing continuous flow and support. This design works perfectly for post-stroke patients, providing exceptional stability while facilitating mobility (watch a testimonial from a stroke survivor). Wheeleo® also successfully increases the walking speed of hemiplegic patients [9], motivating them to recover.

Exoskeletons and orthoses are other assistive devices that could help gain stability after a stroke. Once the patient has regained his or her ability to walk, orthoses facilitate a more favorable position, enabling spontaneous walking [10, 11]. Overall, it’s important to remember that any assistive device must be customized to your needs to give the best effects.

3. Regular activity

Physiotherapy is very important, but to ensure a smooth recovery, you should also consider other forms of movement. Stroke survivors report that their physical and mental health improves when they are active in their daily lives. Remember to adapt your activities to what works for you. It doesn’t have to be difficult! Simply sitting up in bed can be an excellent activity if repeated several times. You can also do the housework, go for walks and climb the stairs. If you overexert yourself, it could cancel out the positive effects of your movement.

Depending on your stability and mobility problems, using a walker can be a great way to stay active. Wheeleo® has been designed to make it easy for you to become independent during your convalescence. Thanks to its modern look, it’s suitable for everyone, whatever their age. Stroke can also affect young people, so Wheeleo® is the ideal walking aid to help you maintain your self-confidence. Stroke recovery shows your strength, and Wheeleo® supports that with its powerful design.

You’re not alone

Starting to use assistive devices, personalized physiotherapy and daily movement may seem very difficult at the beginning of your road to recovery. Stroke affects everyone differently, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Family, friends, doctors and stroke survivor support groups can help you stay motivated. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them. Recovery will take time and patience, but their support and encouragement to keep going will guarantee improved stability and mobility.

Be motivated by the patients who use Wheeleo® :

– Watch a stroke survivor’s testimony

– Discover how Wheeleo® benefits hemiplegia patients.

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