Physiotherapy exercises after a stroke
Pain Management

How physiotherapy helps stroke patients

A stroke can be debilitating, frightening, and can take away your independence. Getting the right physiotherapy advice and exercises as soon as possible following stroke is essential. The good news is that improvements can occur significantly and quickly with the majority of the improvements seen in the first 6 months after a stroke. With further improvements in the years after. Time, resources, patience, and persistence are essential in the stroke treatment journey. At Next Level Physiotherapy Cork, we provide tailored specific programmes to each person to ensure a successful recovery from a stroke.

What is a stroke?

There are two main types of strokes. The most common type of stroke is an Ischemic stroke, occurring in 85% of people. This is caused by an interruption of blood supply to the brain. The second most common type of stroke is a haemorrhage, affecting the remaining 15%. This is caused by an artery bursting in the brain. Time is essential when someone has a stroke. The sooner treatment begins, the better outcome that can be achieved. Identifying the initial signs and symptoms of a stroke is vital in limiting its effects. Here’s how to spot a stroke fast and what to do if you think someone has had a stroke.  

What happens when you have a stroke?

A stroke can be a very scary experience and significantly impacts mobility, independence, and communication. Activities such as dressing, talking, walking, and getting out of bed can all be significantly impacted after having a stroke. The rehabilitation journey involves a wide range of medical professionals to ensure the best outcome.

Physiotherapy exercises after a stroke

The best exercises following a stroke are the functional ones. Movements we do every day and take for granted. Such as standing up, sitting on a chair unaided, walking, and personal care. The following exercises would be good to start with as guided by your physiotherapist. Please note that these are general exercises used in stroke recovery. We recommend a full assessment and recovery plan, tailored to the needs of the individual.

Sitting on the edge of the bed:

Start by getting the person from a flat lying position in bed to the edge of the bed. From here you want to get the person to sit independently without any assistance for approximately 1 minute if possible. To begin with the physiotherapist will need to support the person while making them work as hard as possible to maintain their balance. You can progress this by getting the person to reach forwards and to the side. Or by sitting on a balance cushion. This will challenge their coordination, balance, and motor control further.

Standing up from a seated position:

Safety is paramount here and depending on the severity of the stroke the person may need assistance of two physiotherapists and even potentially a standing aid. Try and get the person to stand independently with as little help as possible from your physiotherapists. Aim for 10 seconds and gradually build up from there.


Parallel bars or support from a stand aid are extremely helpful for this one. Again, safety is key, and this should only be attempted by your physiotherapist. Aim for 10 steps and progress by gradually removing the amount of support to the point where walking is independent.

Arm movement and weight-bearing:

Following a stroke, you may be wearing a sling to prevent subluxation of the shoulder. This is where the head of humerus (shoulder) drops down a little from the acromion (shoulder bone). Therefore, the shoulder should be moved with care to prevent subluxation.

These exercises will be guided by your physiotherapist. Some useful exercises to begin with would be passively (someone else moving the shoulder) in all directions. The person could also while sitting on firm surface start to put some weight through the affected arm. For example, by rolling a gym ball back and forth with support from the other hand.


Stroke is a complex medical condition, and it needs a multidisciplinary approach. The key to getting back to normal after a stroke, is acting quickly. Followed by how fast you receive input from the doctors, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.

Next Level Physiotherapy regularly treats stroke patients and has had many success stories. Lead Physiotherapist, John Shanahan, has considerable experience in Neurological Physiotherapy, ensuring his stroke patients receive a high level of care. If you would like to make a booking or have any queries do not hesitate to get in touch.

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