The symptoms after a stroke vary by individual; however, a common symptom is a lack of balance. Implementing balance therapy after a stroke is the best way to get that balance back to a level that improves the quality of life. In this article, we’ll look at the different forms of balance therapy used by therapists and some methods to use at home.
Physical therapy is used in many ways after a stroke, and one of these ways is to help the patient regain their balance. A physical therapist often implements the following methods during balance therapy:
- Dynamic standing balance techniques: Dynamic balance refers to our ability to stay in one position while moving—for example, staying upright and on course while walking or running. Physical therapists use things like balancing boards to practice dynamic balance.
- Hippotherapy: Hippotherapy, also known as, equine therapy, is highly effective when implementing balance therapy after a stroke. It involves the use of a horse to improve gait, posture, balance, and all-around emotional well-being.
- Practice daily routine movements: After a stroke, the simple movements we take for granted, such as moving from our bed to a chair, become difficult. During physical therapy, the patient will practice those daily activities that require balance.
Therapy at Home
A physical therapist will give homework to their patients, requesting they continue building up their balance with exercises at home. Those exercises might include:
- Heel raises: Holding onto the end of a chair or table and raising the heels is a simple way to begin to regain balance. After improvement, the patient may be able to do heel raises without holding on to anything.
- Heel-to-toe walking: Practicing purposeful walking with exaggerated heel-to-toe movements.
- Squats: Squats using an exercise ball on the back against a wall are a gentle but effective way to improve balance.
Occupational therapy focuses on daily life skills. Most of us hop out of bed in the morning and get on with our day. After a stroke, those small daily tasks are often difficult. The goal of occupational therapy is to regain the skills lost from the stroke, such as getting dressed, going to the restroom, feeding oneself, and making something to eat. Occupational therapy works on these goals by practicing the following:
- Eye-hand coordination
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Managing emotions
- Life skills
It’s possible to improve quality of life after a stroke, but it takes patience and time. Always follow your doctor’s orders and your physical therapist’s instructions. At Chariot Innovations, we understand the frustration after a stroke and the desire to get back to your daily routine. We created the MiraColt® so everyone could experience the benefits of hippotherapy. The MiraColt® is a horse riding simulator exercise machine that greatly improves balance and other skills for those who have experienced a stroke, along with helping others with movement disorders. Contact Chariot Innovations to discuss how hippotherapy can improve balance therapy at your own home or in your clinical setting.