How do I regain my balance after a stroke?

8 answers | Last updated: Mar 31, 2014
pes1955 asked...
I had a right sided stroke (affected left side of body). After 4 weeks of live-in physical and occupational therapy, I still have a problem with falling toward my left side when I turn in that direction. Have hurt myself often and it gets so bad that I vomit and get very dizzy. Checks of my balance have been taken and results are normal. However, it feels like my brain crosses, like crossing one's eyes. Takes a while for me to get balanced again. Any help?
 

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Caring.com User - James Castle, M.D.
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James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.
86% helpful
answered...

A few thoughts here:

First, you should continue to get improvement in your symptoms after a stroke - out to at least 6 months after the stroke occurred. Therefore, I See also:
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would continue to work on this aggressively with your physical and occupational therapist.

Second, it is never OK to be falling this much. You need to work with your therapists about finding a better way for you to turn safely. You may need extra support, such as with a walker, or with coaching on how to use a wall to support yourself while slowly turning.

Finally, on some rare occasions, I find that patients get benefit from medications. These include either meclizine or low dose benzodiazepines (the most commonly known being valium). Sometimes, these medicines nicely take the "edge off" vertigo and imbalance. However, I would work with your doctor on prescribing these, as in some cases the medicine makes the problem worse.

I would add that you would probably be well off to see a Physiatrist (Physical Medicine doctor) as they are experts in stroke rehabilitation.

Good luck!

 

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25% helpful
oc1dean answered...

Ask if he has 'pusher syndrome'. There is no magical answer, it will take lots of hard work and repeated trying even after failing. To neuroplastically rewire the brain may take millions of repititions.

 

Julie Kardachi is an occupational therapist, and Celeste Carlucci is a professional dancer and fitness expert. With more than 60 years of combined...
100% helpful

Your vomiting and dizziness symptoms concern us. We recommend you consult a professional to double-check your balance, and arrange for vision and inner ear evaluations. Perhaps the consultation and evaluations may offer an explanation.

In the meantime, our suggestion to help you keep your balance is to use a dancer's technique called "spotting" when you are turning to the left. Dancers must spin and turn without losing their balance, and they do this by finding a fixed spot on the wall or in the environment that they focus on when they turn.

For you, start by turning your head before you turn your body: find a "spot" to focus on "“ a fixed object that you are able to see and keep your eyes on. While looking at this "spot", turn your body to the left. This method may make left turns take slightly longer, but it should help you keep your balance.

 

Howard3 answered...

pes1995, I too had a right side stroke about 6 years ago. My balance problem was not as severe as yours, but I do recall feeling at times that I was on a slightly rocking boat. After a while i tried to go out and hit tennis balls (for some personal self-pre-scribed therapy), but if I was moving sideways I always felt like I would fall over in whichever direction I had been moving. The good news is that this feeling has completely gone away with time ( I still cannot play tennis worth a damn but the tipping over feeling is gone).

 

100% helpful
W4L answered...

Stroke recovery requires a tremendous amount of focus on a daily basis. I have been involved with fitness and conditioning training for 40years "“ and personally suffered a serious stroke 11years ago. From my personal experience with rebuilding my own life and working with others to rebuild theirs, I am 100% convinced that you can recover a truly significant amount of your life [if not all] with the right daily disciplines and focused efforts. For many, that will require the daily assistance from others who are trained to provide the activities, etc. This is not an experience that you simply rehab and then, go on with your life. This will require a discipline of focused activities for the rest of your life "“ or, you will lose much of what you have recovered. Basic Suggestions: Walking, Walking, Walking "“ as much as possible - daily. Stair Climbing: Carefully and deliberately "“ with support and/or assistance as needed. Lying on your back "“ Straight-Leg Raises: Keeping your back flat and one leg straight, slowly "raise your leg" 18-24" high, slowly lower and try to repeat for 10-15 repetitions. Alternate legs. Lying on your side"“ Side-Leg Raises: Keeping your leg straight and foot flat or with toes pointed down slightly, slowly attempt to raise your leg 12-18", slowly lower and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. Balance Training: Attempt to "stand and balance on one leg" for as long as you can "“ supporting yourself as needed. Alternate legs. You should attempt to do these exercises (at least) every other day.

 

Mary Simpson answered...

"BRAIN WHIRL" DOES GET ALOT BETTER AS TIME GOES BY. TAKES UP TO A YEAR MAYBE AND THEN SOME IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS. I STILL CAN NOT BE AROUND UNEXPECTED MOVEMENT THAT CAN THROW ME OFF. AND I AM COMING UP ON MY 17TH YEAR.

YOU MAY BE LIKE ME, NOT ABLE TO EVER MAKE A TURN TOWARD YOUR AFFECTED SIDE AGAIN. BUT UNDER CAREFUL PRACTICE KEEP TRYING OVER THE NEXT MONTHS AND YEARS. USE A CANE/ WALKER OR WHATEVER IS GOOD FOR YOU .. EVEN IN THE HOUSE! DO NOT LET YOURSELF GET INTO SITUATIONS TO FALL. YOU MAY FIND THE FALLS CAN SET YOU BACK IN RECOVERY BY WEEKS AND MANY MONTHS! SO STAY SAFE. AND KEEP DOING EVERY ROM OR MOVEMENT YOU FEEL YOU CAN. BE CREATIVE. AT THIS POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY. ITS NOW YOUR "JOB" TO RETEACH YOUR BRAIN AND BODY ALL YOU CAN. HANG IN YOU ARE JUST A BABY ON THIS "STROKE JOURNEY". KEEP A JOURNAL SO YOU CAN LOOK BACK AND SEE HOW FAR YOU CAME. AND KEEP EXERCISE CHARTS TOO. SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT YOU DID, SHOULD DO AND WHAT HELPS.

HUGS MARY SIMPSON

 

50% helpful
MsKipper answered...

I had a stroke about 4 yrs ago, and I was 40 yrs old. I could not feed myself or offer myself person hygeine when it happened. I still feel if I turn to quickly or move to fast I get dizzy. I got a balance board with the Wii and it really helped with my balance. Even those games that I can't completly play I have improved on. My neurologist said that no one can tell me when or if I will get things back. He said that ppl may get the biggest gain in the first 6 months to a yr but that they can still get things back after yrs. He said it will not be like a Moses moment that one day you will just be trying to do something like you normally would and you can do it. I remember calling my mom after 2 yrs crying cause I could wipe with toilet paper. I never understood the line in "Tuesdays with Morrie" where he was asked if he was afraid to die, and he said no he was more afraid of the process of dying where someone would need to wipe and feed him. I get it!!! I have made about a 95% recovery but it was hard work and getting back to doing things in my normal life. I had a great physical and occupational therapist, and a doctor that listened to me when I said that I felt like I needed something else.

 

raven1 answered...

I had 2 strokes at age 50 while in the hospital for seizures. During a seizure I seem to fall to the left. I take many prescpition drugs and have a high fall risk factor. I feel a cane is useful, especially on curbs,stairs,ect... Yoga and walking 20 mins. a day helps also and rubber band exercise's help with my balance.

 

 
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