Fall Prevention for Stroke Survivors

As high as 40% of stroke survivors have serious falls attributed to Balance Problems. Rock fell from the stairs twice and thank God she did not incurred serious injuries except for some vicious looking bruises and having aches and pain for a week.

People with balance problems often benefit from physical therapy. Your first step is to get a therapy prescription from your physician. According to physical therapist Sapan Palkhiwala your body uses a combination of three systems to stay balanced.

1. Vision:
This is self explanatory.

2. Vestibular:
The vestibular system helps by monitoring changes in your head movements with respect to the pull of gravity. It includes two parts: the central system (housed in your brain) and the peripheral system (in your inner ear). These systems are connected by the vestibular nerve. Strokes are more likely to affect the central system. If the vestibular system is injured by stroke, you may experience dizziness and imbalance

3. Somatosensory:
With the somatosensory system, your body uses information it receives from the pressure of your feet on the floor, and your ankle positioning, to help balance your body.

Sapan says a majority of stroke survivors have balance problems because one side is stronger than the other. He encourages survivors to build up their affected side by using it in daily activities, such as reaching for a glass of water.

Caregiver can bring a chair into a corner of a room. While the survivor stands in the corner, he or she can hold on to the back of the chair and practice moving shoulders and hips together from side to side and then forward to backward. This exercise also forces the survivor to use and strengthen his affected side.

If a stroke affects your vision, you can learn to compensate. If you have a visual field cut so that you cannot see anything out of the left side of both eyes, you can practice scanning the room with the right side of your eye while turning your head.

With the help of a therapist, survivors can also practice balancing on shifting surfaces like foam, grass, sand or seat cushions. Since your feet are not on a flat surface, you can’t use your feet to reference yourself. You are forced to use vision to balance yourself, thus strengthening this system.

Some Recommended Steps For Preventing Falls :

  • Use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.
  • Make sure light switches are easily accessible.
  • Use bathmats with suction cups and non-adhesive strips in the tub.
  • Sit on a bench or stool in the shower and use a hand-held showerhead.
  • Don’t walk around in stocking feet. Wear shoes or slippers that fit snugly.
  • Remove throw rugs and secure area rugs with double-sided tape.
  • Use a sturdy step stool with a handrail when reaching items up high and store frequently used items at waist level.
  • Review medications with your doctor as some may cause dizziness and imbalance.
  • If you feel lightheaded when first sitting or standing up, sit down and stay seated until your head clears, then stand up slowly.
  • Ask for help. If needed, a caregiver or family member should be ready, willing and able to help out.
  • Slow down and take all the time you need when walking. There is no need to hurry, and it may be safer to go more slowly.

Related Posts

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Facts of Stroke & The Warning Signs.
Stroke Risk Factors.
Understanding Spasticity
Eating & The Stroke Survivor
The Job No One Asks For
Caregivers Month
Botox & Spasticity
The ABC’s of Caregiving
Behavioural Changes
There is Hope
Improving Awareness

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About bokjae

A retiree and full-time home care-giver to my wife a stroke survivor. A graduate in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, working as Project Manager; and was in Senior Management (Executive Director) with a local Telecommunications Company for 22 years till retirement. Upon retirement I was attached to a Church serving as full-time lay leader, lay counsellor as well as in social or community work such as old folks home, drug rehab, orphanage.

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