Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
Last modified on September 13th, 2022
Learning how to sit up is one of the first major milestones in a person’s life. Unfortunately, after suffering a stroke, many survivors find themselves unable to sit up or stand safely. This is because balance is critical to maintaining these positions, and a stroke can affect a person’s ability to balance in several ways.
After a stroke, many survivors experience weakness or loss of sensation on one side of their body. This weakness can lead to the inability to hold your body upright, and loss of sensation can make it difficult to know if you are seated safely or not.
Another way a stroke can lead to balance issues is by impairing vision. Eye-movement problems or blind spots can make it difficult to adjust your posture to keep yourself upright. Strokes can also affect your perception, making it tough to judge your surroundings.
Some people experience dizziness or vertigo after stroke, which can affect balance, but it usually subsides. Some medications after stroke can also lead to dizziness. Talk to your doctor if you think medication may be leading to your balance issues.
If you can’t balance while sitting, you won’t be able to balance while standing. Regaining balance after stroke is important for achieving independence. Studies have shown that sitting balance exercises can help fix balance problems after a stroke. These exercises below can help stroke survivors regain their sitting balance.
As with any new exercise, stroke survivors should talk with their healthcare provider before attempting these and supervision may be required for safety. If the exercises cause pain, the individual should stop.
A simple exercise to start with is shifting your weight from side to side. Keeping a straight back, slowly shift your weight to one side, hold it for a few seconds, then go back to center. Repeat on the other side. This exercise can be repeated 20–30 times per session, or as many as is safe for you.
Have a partner hold a ball a little more than an arm’s length away from you. Carefully reach for the ball as they place it in different locations. You may need a second helper to catch you if you become unsteady and start to fall. Repeat the exercise 10–15 times.
Start by sitting upright and steadying yourself with your hands. Lift one leg while keeping the knee bent, and hold it for about 5 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat the exercise 5–10 times, depending on strength.
Seated upright with your core engaged, extend one leg at the knee, then lower to the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Do two sets of 15 exercises.
Keeping your hands clasped together, reach your hands straight forward to the point where your whole body is working but you are not in danger of falling. Hold for 5 seconds, then lean back in your chair and sit normally. Repeat the exercise 10 times. You can also practice reaching to either side of your body.
A stroke can throw you off balance. Without it, simple functions that are critical to normal life, like sitting and standing, become dangerous. The last thing you need after a stroke is to injure yourself by falling out of a chair. If you relearn to keep yourself upright by exercising and strengthening your sitting balance, you’re that much closer to achieving independence.
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.