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3 Easy At Home Physiotherapy Exercises For Brain Injury Survivors

Updated on October 5, 2015

Hello There, VivBounty here with 3 easy physiotherapy excercises my sister, a stroke survivor was just given by her physiotherapist. Her brain injury was 16 years ago. In the interim she has had various therapies, occupational, pool program and several surgeries to improve mobility, but lacking consistency and progression of mobility since the injury.

Finding her daughter lethargic and her mobility regressing as the years have passed, her primary caregiver, our mother decided to take matters in hand. It took some doing and finally she found a wonderful physiotherapist outside their home whose own mother is a stroke survivor. This young man was inspired to his chosen profession as a result of his mother's experience. He works with patients deep in stroke paralysis state and advocates that every little exercise and movement you do pumps blood to the brain.

I had a phone call yesterday from her after her second session to tell me how excited she was and that for the first time in 16 years she has hope. She is "on cloud nine" as she put it and "nothing's going to stop her now". She briefly described a little of each exercise as short term memory is a common challenge for brain injury survivors, and said how she was swinging her hips, while holding the grocery as Mum and our sister took her shopping after therapy. Our middle sister then grabbed the phone and gave me the complete exercise regimen prescribed and how they were going to make it work with what they had at home. 

Walk along kitchen tiles

Swing Your Hips In a Little Dance

1. Hands Down For Balance-Stand Up-Walk-Swing Hips

1. Stand up, put the left hand down for balance as she tends to hold it bent and up under her neck causing a leaning to the right. Again common in brain injury survivors. Shift weight to her left leg (weak side) and balance on it for a couple of seconds. Bring feet closer together, putting left foot first, walk a straight line (at first with Mum holding her at the waist lightly for support on left side (her default has been to hold anyone using her trusted stronger right arm, somtimes like a vice grip and we are all 4 inches shorter than her), eventually on her own as balance improves. At each end stop and with legs shoulder width apart swing hips from right to left as when dancing. She loves to dance so I told her to remember when we did the merenge on the catamaran on our vacation in the Dominican Republic. Repeat 10 times. Middle sister, with her logic came up with using the length of kitchen and following the line of the floor tiles. This has 2 benefits, the first being the walking balance and the second making her look down which is something she has avoided doing since her injury and caused her to trip up many times. Again this is common with brain injury/stroke survivors.

She's almost sitting straight
She's almost sitting straight

2. Sitting down-Getting Up Poperly

Sitting down and getting up properly. She tends to approach a chair, turn her strong side towards it, holding the chair arm or table to brace herself backing up until the back of her right knee touches the chair, lowers herself down at an angle onto her right cheek immediately crossing weak leg over strong one. The therapist advises to back up straight against the chair until the back of both knees touch the chair and then lower herself using her quad cane or table for support facing straight forward. Slide all the way back in the chair fully sitting on both cheeks. Stand up again using cane or table if sitting to a meal, for support and sit down straight again 10 times. 

3. Lie Flat On Back-Bend Knees-Slide Heels Up

3. Lying flat on her back. Legs together, bend knees sliding heels up towards buttocks. Then slide heels back down slowly straightening legs again. The therapist advised putting plastic bags on her feet once she's laying down to facilitate the sliding. Repeat 10 times. Mum was a bit worried about this one as we have never been able to get our sister all the way down onto the floor and back up again. I remember putting her in a tub about 5 years into her stroke recovery as she so loved a soak. Well it took two of us to get her out and fits of hysterical giggling before we figured out that this was not a good idea. Again our logical sister took over here and came up with removing the sofa cushions and having her do the exercises on the supportive plywood board under them.

Lay on Sofa For Knee Bends

A large reason for adding a therapist outside the home was to free some time up for Mum as caregivers can tend to forget themselves and certainly as a mother, it's really difficult for her to take time alone. There is a busy roster of physical and occupational therapists along with homecare personnel who have to be coordinated in their home so it was becoming an overwhelming concept to now make a slot to help her daughter with these home physiotherapy exercises. So why not incorporate the homework with the current schedule of therapists, our calm assuring sister suggested? Thus it was implemented and as she leaves them after a week with Mum and our miracle sister, they settle in to a very doable routine both gaining independence one little step at a time on their own safari to success for which we are truly grateful given the distance they live from us.

Prosperous Blessings,

Safari to Success


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      belantos 4 years ago

      Great exercise if the brain injury doesn't cause you to become a quadriplegic. My mate, Peter Blundy, suffered a severe head injury that left him a quadriplegic with a locked-in syndrome. Now, when you are in such a condition it is very limited what exercises you can do. For anyone interested, on his website he tells his life story and also shows the disability equipment he uses on a daily basis:

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 4 years ago from Canada

      @SarahJayne123, Here in Canada, my sister does have a physiotherapist along with many support systems as she is 20 years post massive brain injury. Thanks for the advice, though.

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      SarahJayne123 5 years ago

      I think with physio, its important to see a physiotherapist rather than trying to find exercises yourself. I found information on physiotherapists at, hope this helps! x

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 5 years ago from Canada

      Hello Talal. I happen to have a sister who keeps me hopping with all the activities the wonderful organizations have in her area. I found this site which could perhaps give you more info: and also this article: by doing a Google search for "activities for brain injured persons". Please feel free to contact me with any comments/questions you may have here: Apologies for the delay in replying as I have been traveling and then under the weather upon my return. Keep in touch, Viv :)

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      Talal 5 years ago

      my son he suffered from severe TBI and he is brain damage,can you tell me of a site where i can learn physiotherapy to stretch his muscles

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 7 years ago from Canada

      @quildon - Hi there quildon. Nice to meet you too. I love occupational therapists and have great respect for you all having watched the amazing progress of my sister. Thanks for your encouragement. I will certainly share my insights more as I get back into the swing of my writing again. God bless you too.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi there, VivBounty, it's nice to meet you on Hub pages. I am an occupational therapist and have worked with lots of stroke and TBI patients. It's one aspect of the job I enjoy because my mom suffered two strokes. I want those who have this condition, and their families, to know as much about it as possible, and you are helping in this regard. God bless.

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you TrudyVan. She really is a joy to be around.

    • TrudyVan profile image

      TrudyVan Curre 8 years ago from South Africa

      Hello there Just wanted to tell you I thought your sister has a beautiful smile. The light just shines from her.

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you my friend. We are a family here at HubPages and throughout our network. So happy to be able to share helpful info as I have been blessed and others have shared with me. We too prayed throughout my sister's coma and now look at the miracle she is.

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      TrudyVan 8 years ago

      Hello there VivBounty, TrudyVan here. Your hubs are a fantastic sourch of information. Glad you found hubpages and are now able to share your knowledge with us. Thank for linking to TeejTracy, the thought brought tears to my eyes. I know first hand how the prayers help her. Thank you my friend with the caring soul.