Being bedridden after stroke is often the result of massive stroke.
Patients may end up being bedbound due to various side effects, but most often partial paralysis is the culprit.
When you can’t move after stroke, more adverse side effects may occur – but we’re here to help.
This article will show you how to prevent things from getting worse and eventually get back on your feet!
Let’s get started.
What Happens When You’re Bedridden After Stroke
Here’s a quick breakdown of what gets worse when you’re bedridden after stroke. (Then we’ll get to the solutions after.)
1. Muscle Atrophy
Muscle atrophy occurs when your muscles waste away, often due to physical inactivity, like being bedridden after stroke.
It’s the opposite of what happens when you lift heavy weights and your muscles become bigger.
“Use it or lose it,” is what many physiotherapist say.
2. Learned Nonuse
If a stroke patient continues to neglect their affected limbs, things can get worse and another side effect sets in: learned nonuse.
When learned nonuse occurs, the brain completely forgets how to use the neglected muscle.
This in particular is where the saying “use it or lose it” comes from.
How to Get Better, Not Worse
Luckily, the solution to both problems is movement.
But not just any movement – you should try to complete strategic, passive exercises to get your movement in.
Passive exercise involves assisting your affected side through range of motion drills. Ideally, you would use your non-affected side to accomplish this.
However, most bedridden stroke patients cannot achieve this type of movement yet, so you may need the help of a caregiver or therapist.
To perform passive movement, ask someone to move your muscles through range of motion exercises.
Not only will this help prevent learned nonuse, but it will also prevent bedsores that often happen from being bedridden long-term.
How to Get Un-Bedbound
Another benefit of passive exercise is that it may help restore movement in the paralyzed limbs.
In fact, this is key! When you move your body through passive exercises, it can help wake up your brain by saying, “Hey! We’ve got limbs here! Let’s get things moving again!”
The idea here is to activate neuroplasticity and encourage your brain to rewire itself to regain control of your affected muscles.
Repetition is incredibly important for this to work. The more you repeat passive exercises, the more you reinforce the growing neural networks in the brain.
Even if a caregiver is making the movements for you, it can still help activate neuroplasticity. And in time, passive exercise may help restore movement.
If this sounds like wishful thinking, just check out this paralysis recovery story for proof that there really is hope.
It’s about a patient who moved his arm for the first time ever by doing passive exercise with a rehab exercise tool from Flint Rehab called FitMi.
Passive exercise really can work.
Reversing Atrophy After Stroke
If you begin to regain movement through these methods, then don’t stop there. Keep up the hard work, because eventually you can get back to active exercise.
This means being able to perform exercises on your own. At which point, you can increase your repetitions to encourage more neuroplasticity and regain even more movement.
Eventually, you should add light resistance with dumbbells or resistance bands to regain the muscle mass that was lost from inactivity.
Getting Un-Bedbound with Rehab Exercises
Survivors who are bedridden after stroke should strive to move all their muscles at least a little every day.
Even if you cannot move your muscles yourself, then assisted movement can still help prevent learned nonuse, avoid bedsores, and slow down muscle atrophy.
Finding a great rehabilitation exercise program will help immensely.
Don’t lose hope for getting back on your feet. There are many stroke recovery stories that show there’s always hope!