WHAT IS PHYSIOTHERAPY?
Physiotherapy is an allied health discipline centred around helping to relieve pain and restore healthy movement to the body. Physiotherapists apply evidence-based techniques and a detailed understanding of human physiology to support people whose ability to move has been impaired through illness, injury or for other reasons. The ultimate aim is to help people be independent, improve quality of life, reduce pain and support their ability to function as well as possible
Our purpose is to be a global facilitator of health and wellness through access, education and advancement of Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM). The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that lifestyle-related diseases (or non-communicable diseases) are responsible for more than 70% of deaths worldwide each year.
Knowledge represents empowerment. By sharing this evidence-based, peer-reviewed research, we aim to support everyday people to take ownership of their wellness, by making informed decisions and choices in conjunction with their health professional.
How This Study Could Help Stroke Survivors
According to the World Stroke Organization, it is estimated that one in four people aged older than 25 will have a stroke at some point in their lifetime. Post stroke is a major disorder, and is the most common form of disability worldwide. This study investigates how effectively a particular physiotherapy approach may help people recovering from stroke, and is titled:
EFFECT OF SWISS BALL TRAINING AND CONVENTIONAL PHYSIOTHERAPY TO IMPROVE BALANCE AND MOBILITY IN POST-STROKE PATIENTS.
You can read the full study here: https://bit.ly/2LWsLMs
Why Is This Study Important?
Stroke is caused by the sudden death of brain cells after a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or becomes blocked, starving cells of oxygen. The brain injury caused by non-fatal stroke can impair mental functions such as memory and cognition, as well as leading to problems with balance, speech and coordinated movement.
One common post-stroke problem is hemiparesis, which is weakness and difficulty in controlling muscles on one side of the body. Hemiparesis can make simple activities such as walking or sitting down or rising from a chair difficult, due to the lack of symmetry in a person’s ability to coordinate their arms and legs.
The combination of problems with balance and challenges to mobility may force people who have suffered a stroke to become reliant on others to help them with normal daily activities. Additionally, poor balance increases the risk that a stroke survivor may fall and injure themselves.
For these reasons, an effective form of treatment that may significantly improve balance could have a positive outcome on quality of life in people recovering from stroke.
What Does This Mean For My Wellness?
The results of this study suggest that using a Swiss ball for physiotherapy exercises may target neurological and physical processes that help repair faculties such as balance after stroke-related damage. A reliable sense of balance, not only while standing but also while walking or reaching for objects, can reduce the risk of falls. Especially in elderly people, this may prevent serious injuries such as fractures.
The research also indicates that significant benefits can be obtained without the need for expensive and specialised therapeutic equipment. This means physiotherapists catering for low- income or under-resourced populations can offer a form of treatment that may significantly reduce disability and dependence of people recovering from stroke.
How Does This Relate to Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapists are allied health professionals who use a variety of approaches to help relieve pain and restore healthy movement to the body. Physiotherapy is widely used to help people who have suffered a stroke promote the brain’s ability to heal itself by making new connections or adapting healthy areas to take over from the parts affected by the stroke.
A Swiss ball is an inflatable exercise aid similar to a large beach ball that can support a person’s weight. Using a Swiss ball as part of physiotherapy for post-stroke patients may be particularly beneficial for a number of reasons, and may be especially helpful in the restoration of balance.
When a person is using the ball to support some or all of their body, its tendency to roll away forces them to use the core muscles in their torso to help stabilise it. For people who have suffered a stroke, this can help them rebuild core strength that may have deteriorated in association with hemiparesis. Balancing on a Swiss ball also helps encourage symmetrical use of various muscle groups, and triggers the brain to re-learn how to synchronise both sides of the body.
In 2018, researchers affiliated with the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences in India published the results of a study evaluating the effects of Swiss ball exercises as a key component of physiotherapy for 40 post-stroke patients.
They hypothesised that the combination of brain stimulation, stability and muscle endurance exercises associated with using a Swiss ball may help stroke survivors re-learn the balance and coordination they need to reduce their level of disability.
Key Findings About Physiotherapy for Supporting Stroke Rehabilitation
- The authors reported a significant improvement in the participants’ balance after six weeks of treatment, as measured by a 14-item scoring system evaluating aspects of balance relevant to daily life.
- The results of the study also indicated a reduction in the time it took for participants to complete a test of standing up from a chair, completing a short walk and sitting down again. This test was reported to be a reliable indicator of functional impairment and may predict the risk of falls.
- The researchers noted that the physiotherapy exercises used in the study relied heavily on balance and proprioception, which is a sense of where a person’s body is in space. Visual cues and information from the balance sensing organs in the ears were also utilised to successfully balance on the ball. The authors suggested these factors may promote and encourage the formation of new nerve pathways in the brain to make up for areas that were damaged as a result of stroke.
- In addition to concluding that Swiss ball exercises were effective in improving participants’ balance and coordination, the study also noted that other studies had found that the use of a Swiss ball produced better results than exercises on a stable surface such as the bed or the ground.
International Journal of Physiotherapy and Research (IJPR) is an open access, peer-reviewed, bimonthly publishing online and print journal that encompasses all academic and clinical aspects of physiotherapy.
Quoted from journal description
Learn About Stroke | World Stroke Organization
Effect Of Swiss Ball Training And Conventional Physiotherapy To Improve Balance And Mobility In POST-STROKE Patients | ResearchGate
Physiotherapy | SoulAdvisor
Stroke rehabilitation | Stroke Foundation
International Journal of Physiotherapy and Research | IMD Research Publications