Post Stroke Pilates

What is a stroke? A stroke is a disruption in the blood supply to the brain. Most strokes are caused from a blockage/blood clot in the brain, some are caused by bleeding from the brain (haemorrhage). When blood is pumped around the brain correctly it supplies oxygen and nutrients needed to allow the body to function properly. When you have a stroke, brain tissue is damaged and the oxygen/nutrients are not sufficiently supplied, therefore the body will not be functioning properly.

Symptoms of a stroke may vary. ‘Each person is affected differently and individual symptoms depend on which parts of the brain are affected. The severity of the symptoms depends on how much damage is done to the brain.’

The main symptoms of a stroke are:

  • physical problems in one side of the body (numbness, weakness)
  • drooping in one side of the face
  • speech problems (slurred speech, muddled words)
  • visual problems (blurred vision, loss of vision)

Other symptoms can include:

  • pain,
  • dizziness and balance problems
  • memory problems
  • a loss of awareness of one side of the body
  • fatigue

People might also experience longer-term effects such as:

  • psychological problems (depression or difficulty controlling emotions),
  • bowel or bladder problems (incontinence)
  • problems with swallowing

consciousness might be lost in more serious cases.

Stroke symptoms often arrive quite sudden. Strokes can even occur while people are sleeping. If this happens, people will wake up with the symptoms.

Coming to terms with such a sudden changes can take a massive toll on you physically and mentally, not to forget the effects socially and financially as well.

Pilates, we have established in many posts before todays, is incredibly beneficial to illnesses and injuries affecting the body’s function. We encourage the mindful/mental side to the method to enhance recovery over time. It is super important as the Pilates instructor to keep all aspects of the clients situation in mind when pushing the body through rehabilitation. There is a lot of work focused on strengthening the deep core muscles, strengthening the spine to build support in aligned posture, centring the body for a balanced form (as one side is normally effected more in most cases). The Pilates equipment helps to find these key focuses plus facilitates rewiring of the nervous system through fluid yet controlled and stable movement.

It is also up to the instructor to help educate the client about their own body and leave them with a better understanding to help towards continuing self-rehabilitation, this also can help one come to terms with what their body has gone through/going through.

A few months ago an amazing lady, Christina Crame, came to EPL seeking any help she could receive for her debilitating symptoms, post stroke. Here is her testimony as to how beneficial the Pilates method, and our Gaby Noble, has been to her body and the incredible things she has overcome.

‘I am a 69 year old stroke survivor 1 year post-stroke, I walk with a cane due to foot drop, have partial paralysis of my right arm and full paralysis in my right hand. Having been physically active all my life, this disability has hit me hard, severely limiting my once busy lifestyle and knocking my confidence. My improvement from standard-issue physical and occupational therapies started to slow down after 9 months and I was starting to give up hope of further progress. I came to London with the intention to rest and distract myself with family, not to seek further treatment.
When my daughter suggested Pilates to further my rehabilitation I was sceptical. I only knew Pilates as being  cosmetic, not the kind of serious rehabilitation my condition needed. Gaby corrected this view from our first meeting and I have been continuously encouraged and impressed since. She has provided expert therapy using a variety of precise, targeted exercises on the Cadillac and reformer; but most importantly she has provided genuine care, understanding and respect for my fight to heal. I learned to trust her very early into our relationship because she understands the challenges of recovery through personal experience and translates that into her classes.
After three weeks I started to get more movement and feeling in my arm and gained enough strength to transition from a remedial quad-cane to a single point cane. This has made me look and feel more like the grandmother I am and not the patient I was. I have grown in confidence under Gaby’s care and have renewed optimism in what is possible for my future. Thank you Gaby for strengthening me to keep pushing for recovery. I will recommend Pilates to all stroke survivors I meet but I know they will not all be fortunate enough to have you as a teacher!’



If you have any questions about Pilates and strokes or any other debilitating illnesses, please don’t hesitate to ask us; [email protected] – we look forward to helping make more futures brighter and stronger.

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