Walking after a stroke

Is walking significantly impacted after a stroke? What are the causes of the issue and possible solutions, if it is present? You will find the answers in detail by reading the article.

Walking after a stroke

Please let us know the following regarding the most crucial details and information about walking after a stroke:

Walking after a stroke: is it affected?

Having a stroke frequently makes it difficult to walk or move around in general. This is because a stroke may damage parts of the brain that are involved in coordinating movement, and brain signals are disturbed, which makes the mind and muscles not work well together.

Additionally, each person's chance of recovering from a stroke in terms of their ability to walk differs; for a general overview, see the following ratios:

  • With primary leg paralysis, 35% of survivors never regain their ability to walk.
  • Twenty to twenty-five percent of stroke survivors require complete physical assistance to walk.

It is important to note that a study found that patients with paraplegia brought on by a stroke have a 93.8% chance of recovering their ability to walk within 6 months, particularly if they were able to move within the first 72 hours following the stroke.

Causes of walking problems after a stroke

The reasons why walking is impacted after a stroke are as follows:

1. Muscle weakness

Many stroke survivors experience muscle weakness in a localised area or on one side of the body, and this weakness prevents the patient from moving some body muscles at all, such as the muscles in the legs.

2. Cramping

A muscle spasm happens when it is difficult to move it after it has been tight for a while. For example, the leg remains stretched and difficult to bend, and the arm may press on the chest permanently.

3. Foot drop

Some stroke survivors experience a condition known as foot drop, which is caused by weak muscles and the inability to move them. The foot cannot be moved normally and remains soft, i.e. hanging down, and this causes the patient to stumble when trying to walk after a stroke.

4. Other reasons

Following a stroke, walking ability may be impaired for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Tingling: After a stroke, tingling in the legs or feet is extremely painful and makes walking very challenging.
  • Fatigue: The patient typically lacks the energy and focus necessary for walking, and it takes some time for them to return.
  • Problems with balance and coordination are a result of damage to certain brain regions, which causes the injured person to stumble and have trouble walking steadily.

Exercises to improve walking after a stroke

After a stroke, losing the ability to walk does not mean giving up because there are a variety of exercises that help the person walk better and regain his motor skills. The most well-known of these exercises are as follows:

  • Stretching exercise  

The following steps are used to restore the toes' normal shape in the event that they were affected by a stroke and bent inward during this exercise:

  1. Gently pulling the toes upward with the help of the hand, this causes the toe joints to lift while bending.
  2. Gently press the arch of the foot with the help of the thumb , and this may make the patient feel some discomfort, but despite that, he must try to hold on to this position for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Reversing the direction of toe extension to aid in joint orthosis rehabilitation.
  • Basic Standing and Balance Exercise

This exercise is done as follows:

  1. Take a long and strong standing position and shift the weight of the body to one direction, and this can be applied when feeling balanced and stable.
  2. Swing the unsupported leg to the side and stay in this position for 10 seconds.
  3. Switching body weight position towards the other body and swinging it with the non-supporting leg. 
  • Leg exercises

There are many leg exercises, and they can be done with the help of a physical therapist to improve the results of treatment. The steps for one of these exercises are as follows:

  1. Sit on a chair.
  2. Raise the thigh to the chest, and if necessary, the arms can be used to stabilize the thigh.
  3. Return the legs to a sitting position, then repeat the previous step several times, alternating with the legs.

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