What is it? 

A stroke is when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. This damages brain cells and the abilities they control are lost. This can include losing some or all movement!

Symptoms (1)

  • Muscle and joint weakness/stiffness
  • Paralysis (unable to move) on one side of the body
  • Changes in posture and balance
  • Altered sensation in limbs (numbness, heaviness, pins and needles)
  • Pain
  • Tiredness and changes in mood
  • Difficulty with everyday tasks

Who is most at risk?

A stroke can happen to anyone, at anytime, and each person is affected differently.

Major risk factors include (2):

  • High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and smoking
  • Risk of stroke increases as you get older
  • Family history of stroke

Can Physical Therapy help?

Yes! Physical therapists can help both before and after a stroke. We work with you to meet your specific needs and create meaningful goals to help lower your risk factors and/or get you back to your everyday activities!

Treatment may include (1):

  • A full assessment to find the treatments that will best meet your needs
  • Reducing pain
  • Preventing joint stiffness and muscle tightness through manual therapy (hands on work)
  • Exercises to improve strength, balance, coordination, and energy
  • Improving heart function, confidence, and independence

What can you do to reduce the risk of stroke? (2)

  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Try to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Be physically active
  • Eat a healthy diet

For more information, check out the Heart and Stroke Foundation.


  1. Stroke Association UK Physiotherapy. Retrieved on April 18, 2017
  2. Who Is at Risk for a Stroke? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved on April 19, 2017.