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Physical Therapy for Stroke Patients at Home: Tips for Caregivers

Physical Therapy for Stroke Patients at Home: Tips for Caregivers

Physical therapy is a very important part of stroke recovery. Aside from therapy done in the hospital, physical therapy for stroke patients at home is integral to their recovery and overall health.

The reason is that it helps continue the progress that patients have made, and ensures that they regain as much strength and mobility as before. There’s also no special equipment needed for physical therapy for stroke patients at home, so anyone can do it.

Physical Therapy for Stroke Patients at Home

For stroke patients, most of their recovery will be done at home. And despite sometimes having limited movement or strength, it is important to engage in exercise and physical activity.

As a caregiver, one of the important things to remember is to keep your loved one safe. Make sure they don’t experience any significant pain or discomfort while exercising.

It’s also a good idea to be there when they’re exercising to make sure they avoid any injuries such as sprains or falls. Staying hydrated is also very important even when doing light exercise.

Another good thing to remember is to keep your loved one motivated. Exercising while recovering from a stroke can be very difficult, especially if they are not used to exercising at all.

Stroke patients can also suffer from depression, and this can negatively impact their recovery.

What Should You Expect?

In terms of recovery, the first three to four months are crucial for stroke patients.

The reality is that not all stroke patients will recover completely. But this doesn’t mean that the prognosis is grim. Expect that recovery may be slower or faster depending on the extent of brain damage from the stroke. A guided rehabilitation program consisting of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and sometimes even speech therapy, is needed to ensure the best possible recovery from stroke.

physical therapy for stroke patients at home

What Exercises are Effective?

Exercises for recovery usually require an individualized care plan to alleviate the brain damage from stroke. They typically include range-of-motion exercises, constraint-induced therapy, mobility training, and motor-skill. exercises.

Now, for the general health of stroke patients, the following categories of exercises may prove beneficial:

Strength exercises

Strength exercises are exercises that help patients regain muscle strength. These exercises help patients do things such as lift objects, climb stairs, get up from a chair, etc.

One common misconception that people have about strength exercises is that it involves lifting weights. While it is true that lifting weights can help, it’s not the only form of strength exercise.

Strength exercises include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Using resistance bands
  • Walking uphill
  • Cycling

Endurance exercises

Endurance exercises help improve a patient’s stamina. This focuses on improving their lung and heart health and improves their energy levels. This way, patients don’t get tired easily, and they don’t feel winded after physical activity.

Here are some good endurance exercises:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Using a stair machine

Stretching exercises

Stretching helps improve flexibility, and range of motion. It also keeps the muscles and joints flexible, and allows patients to do things such as get dressed or go to the bathroom by themselves, etc.

Stretching exercises are also good in preventing injuries while engaging in physical activity. This is also a good form of physical therapy since it’s not difficult for patients to do.

Stretching exercises include:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Stretching in the morning
  • Pilates

Balance exercises

Balance is very important, especially for elderly patients. This helps lower their risk of falls and serious injuries, and makes it easier for them to move around the house without assistance.

Ideally, patients recovering from stroke can do these exercises without any assistance. However, if you’re a caregiver, it would be advised that you be nearby, and be ready to help in case your loved one loses their balance.

The following balance exercises can be done

  • Heel raises
  • Side steps
  • Single leg stand
  • Backward walk
  • Knee raises

Benefits of Therapy That You Might Not Know About

Key Takeaways

Physical therapy for stroke patients at home is a very important aspect of recovery. It helps them recover faster and attain the level of health that will allow them to regain mobility and function.

For caregivers, regularly consult the doctor and ask them about what exercises are safe to do, as well as the intensity of exercise recommended for your loved one.

Learn more about Stroke here.


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Stroke Rehabilitation at Home | Stroke, https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.011309, Accessed January 25, 2021

Exercise after stroke | Heart and Stroke Foundation, https://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/recovery-and-support/stroke-care/rehabilitation/exercise-after-stroke, Accessed January 25, 2021

15 Things Caregivers Should Know After a Loved One Has Had a Stroke | American Stroke Association, https://www.stroke.org/en/help-and-support/for-family-caregivers/15-things-caregivers-should-know-after-a-loved-one-has-had-a-stroke#:~:text=Gains%20can%20happen%20quickly%20or,second%20year%20after%20their%20stroke., Accessed January 25, 2021

Stroke rehabilitation: What to expect as you recover – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/in-depth/stroke-rehabilitation/art-20045172, Accessed January 25, 2021

Home exercise programs | Heart and Stroke Foundation, https://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/recovery-and-support/stroke-care/rehabilitation/home-exercise-programs, Accessed January 25, 2021

A Simplified Guide To Physical Therapy for Stroke Patients, https://www.saebo.com/blog/a-simplified-guide-to-physical-therapy-for-strokes/, Accessed January 25, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 17
Medically reviewed by Nicole Aliling, M.D.