Stroke can have a dramatic impact on many aspects of your health and mobility. One aspect that can be particularly significant is your balance, as any issues in this area can put you at risk of falling and injuring yourself while you are recovering from a stroke. It’s important to be aware of any impact that a stroke has had on your balance and to take steps to restore your balance as part of your recovery.
How Strokes Can Affect Your Balance
A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is blocked. When the blood supply is cut off, the brain cells aren’t getting the oxygen they need to survive, so they can be damaged. The effects will depend on which part of your brain was affected.
Our sense of balance relies on information from many different parts of the body, including our eyesight, the balance organs in our ears, and messages about how the different parts of our body are positioned. All these signals need to be processed and brought together in our brains so that we can keep our balance.
A stroke can cause problems if it affects any of the parts of the brain that receive or process these different signals. Depending on the areas that have been affected, you could experience issues such as vertigo (a spinning or tilting sensation), reduced senses to one side of your body, or difficulty feeling how your body is positioned. Strokes can also cause balance problems if they affect our ability to control parts of our body.
Coping with Balance Problems After a Stroke
If you do experience balance problems after a stroke then it can have a big impact on your daily life. You might find it harder to perform some everyday activities or you could be at risk of falling. Many stroke survivors are at risk of falls, especially in the first six months when symptoms affecting balance, coordination and vision are usually at their worst.
You should begin to recover your sense of balance in time and associated issues such as coordination or visual problems should also improve. However, it is important to work with your doctors, physiotherapists and other specialists to ensure that your recover your balance as fully and quickly as possible. You will also get advice on reducing the risk of falls and coping with your balance problems to minimise their impact on your health and wellbeing.
Some of the options that could help you with balance problems during your recovery from a stroke include:
- Physiotherapy to improve your movement and stability
- Balance retraining exercises to improve your sense of balance and safely practice activities that you’re finding difficult (such as standing and sitting or changing direction while walking)
- Equipment such as canes to assist with your balance when needed
Tackling balance problems can be an important part of stroke recovery as they can have a big impact on our wellbeing and daily activities. With the right support, it is often possible to improve your balance or find ways to complete your usual activities despite any longer lasting balance issues.